Shane Lowry and Séamus Power are digging deep to stay in the hunt at the US PGA
SHANE Lowry dug deep into blustery afternoon conditions to keep his US PGA Championship hopes alive in Southern Hills. The Offaly man was one-over through 10 holes before sinking some critical putts on the back nine to open with a level par 70 and share 27th place, five shots behind first round leader Rory McIlroy , with windy conditions for the second lap Tomorrow Lowry is preparing for another difficult trial.
But he was relieved not to shoot his way alongside Brooks Koepka, who shot 75, and Adam Scott, who shot 77.
“I’m pretty happy with my result today,” he said. “Today was a day to shoot yourself out. You know I watched golf this morning and they’re obviously showing all the guys making birdies and it just looked.
“You feel like you’re going to go out there and want to score. But then I looked at the scores more closely and it was quite difficult. It was tough out there. Hot. Windy. The greens get springy. Of course it is very, very difficult when you miss the fairway. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with my score.”
The Offaly man got a flyer and bogeyed the second, but while he bogeyed nine feet on the fourth to get back on level, he bogeyed the 10th before bogeying 25 feet on the 12th made to get back on level par.
He was furious when he found water with an ambitious 263-yard seconds after the par-5 13.
“I got it mixed up,” he said. “It was a bad shot. It was really borderline when it wanted to get to the leading edge and you have to get the perfect shot. I probably should have done something differently but I got away with it.”
After making an 18-foot par there, he bowed the 14th par three by finding an awkward spot in a bunker off the green, but he did well to fight back and the last four holes in an underflow to play, rolling a 10-foot ball in the 17th before finally squirming in a testing four-foot.
“I’ve talked about this throughout the week and talked about it yesterday. Things have to happen if you want to do well these weeks and that’s what happened to me today,” he said.
“I potted the right putts at the right time – 12, 13 and 17. It’s nice to hit level par. I’m five behind Rory and Rory made the golf course look easy this morning.
“It’s going to be quite windy overnight and tomorrow morning and hopefully the wind will stay up for the boys in the afternoon. I know tomorrow will be windy and difficult, but the plan is the same.”
Lowry admitted he was nervous ahead of the round, but while his playmates battled he stayed focused.
“It’s also the first round in three weeks and I was a bit afraid to go out there,” said Lowry. “Of course the guys didn’t get their best results, but I just did my own thing.
“Even though I’ve been training well and I feel like I’m hitting the ball well and doing everything pretty solidly, there’s still a bit of concern about how it’s going to go.
“So it’s always nice to open pretty well in these big tournaments. I feel like I belong here. While not a great score by any means, Level Par is pretty good.
“But it’s going to be windy tomorrow, with fairly strong winds forecast, so we’ll see.”
Séamus Power was relieved as he made two great par saves on his final two holes and stayed on the hunt. The West Waterford man (35) never got into the red in difficult afternoon conditions, but he was never more than one over par and was happy to make two five-footers for par and card a one-over 71 in eighth and ninth Share 38th place.
“I don’t know about this morning, but it was tough going out there this afternoon,” Power said. “The greens are pretty run down and it’s just getting a little bit crispy and the breeze is picking up so it’s been tough but overall I can’t be too dissatisfied. I’m still in the thick of it.”
He started on the back nine and bogeyed the 10th after finding his tee shot in a divot, but birdied on the 12th, bogeyed on the 14th and birdied on the 15th before taking no chances on the 16th and 17th.
“I actually played quite well; it’s just difficult to birdie out here, especially this afternoon,” he said. “I had a good shot on 13, missed a short one on 14, but then I had chances on 15, 16 and 17 and didn’t quite take them.
“Then at the end I kind of messed up that par 5 there, so that was a bit of a downer. The rest of those first nine were pretty decent.”
“On this pitch, the slightest mistake and you will get into trouble. You’re just trying to focus and make sure you’re giving yourself the best shot at every shot.
“There are definitely opportunities, but the greens are really the problem. They kept them a bit soft, so the footprints and stuff obviously took their toll. I think tomorrow morning with better greens and even with the wind up, I’ some of those opportunities you can take advantage of.
“Overall it’s not bad. The bogey on the par 5 there kind of sticks because I hit a great tee shot and hit my five and turned it into a terrible spot so that was a bit disappointing.
“The circuit will be completely different this weekend so I’m thinking a good lap tomorrow morning and I can position myself well for the weekend and I should be in good shape.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/shane-lowry-and-seamus-power-dig-deep-to-stay-in-the-hunt-at-us-pga-41669478.html Shane Lowry and Séamus Power are digging deep to stay in the hunt at the US PGA