Shane Lowry is headed straight for Masters glory after a brilliant 68 in round two in Augusta.
The Offaly man rebounded from a bogey in the first to card five birdies for the second-best round of say. But the best lap went to the leader, world number one Scottie Scheffler. He’s the man to beat after signing a 67 and will go into round three at -8 and five shots up.
Meanwhile, Séamus Power survived his Amen Corner sins and pulled off a stunning finish to dive within the projected cutting line in his Masters debut.
As Rory McIlroy also fought the edge of missing the cut for the second straight year, piling up two shots over his final six holes to card a second straight 73 to sit just five shots off the lead, the learned West Waterford man first hand that everything they say about Amen Corner is true.
He’d heard all about the capricious swirling winds that make the course a graveyard for many champion hopes from the approach of the 11th to the enticing par-5 13th.
But after his patience was severely tested when he hit three over 39, he came back from six over for the tournament at six to play with two late birdies and carded a second straight 74 in a day, on which churning winds saw the field average 74.8 — a shot up from Thursday.
Power made his first Masters birdie on the 10th, tearing a 200-yard approach to four feet through the crosswind and laughing as he raised his arms in mock triumph to his traveling support.
But while he then suffered back-to-back body punches from Amen Corner, he dropped shots on the 11th, where the wind whipped his 213-yard approach to the right of the green, and on the 12th, where he watched Patrick Reed’s drive shot down Rae’s Creek and comfortably firing his ball into the back bunker, he regrouped admirably.
Not many 74s feel special, but this one will live long in the memory of Lila O’Dwyer, a 20-year Augusta veteran of Power and West Waterford, who hugged him as he left the 18th green.
His journey back from the chasm began when he teeted off from the edge of Rae’s Creek to the birdie on the 13th, surviving when he airmailed the 15th by 30 yards with a wood three to save his par five and then a Eight irons across the lake pulled to three feet on the 16th before ending with two rock solid par fours.
“It was tough out there today and I ran out of patience on the front nine,” said Power, who drove into the trees and bogeed the fifth, fired another shot when he missed the sixth green on the left and then par three times had putt. five eighths of 40 feet.
“I’m doing bogeys and you’re like, I’m not really sure what just happened. You think you hit a good shot but you just hit the wrong slope, it comes up four or five yards short or goes four or five yards long and you’re four or five feet.”
He didn’t seem intent on making the cut as he bogeyed the first two holes at Amen Corner.
“Elf is in the teeth and the pin is in a narrow section in front,” he explained of a hole where he missed the green on the right and nearly chipped in the water. “Obviously anything that flips too much is in the water but then you really miss and it’s just a difficult shot.
“It’s the same at 12. I’ve watched and heard guys talk about 12 for years and you’re like, no, it really can’t be that bad. So you’re standing there today and it was this bizarre sequence of events.
“Patrick Reed in front of me hits an 8 iron. We hit iron a similar distance. He hits his 8 iron about 135 meters into the water. It was like, okay, I guess I need to wind it down a bit.
“I hit one of the best shots of the day and you see it go straight into the back bunker. Then you have a shot that you can’t land on the green.”
With four overs, Power was seven shots behind 2011 champion Charl Schwarzel, who shot 69, and overnight leader Sungjae In, who hit a 74, was beaten by a three-over-par shot from debutant Harold Varner III (71) and 2020 to lead world champion Dustin Johnson (73).
Power looks sure of making the cut as conditions get tougher for the later starters and can’t wait to build on his momentum this weekend.
“The whole experience here has been incredible,” he said, hoping to make better use of the par five. “It will be a great memory to play twice more. Hopefully I can take the little momentum I got today into the weekend.”
It was also an important day for McIlroy, who birdied the second, bogeyed the fifth and tenth, and double-bogeed the 11th to slide to four-over before following Power’s example with birdies on the 13th and 16th, respectively to keep his dreams of the green jacket and live the career grand slam.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/us-masters/shane-lowry-in-contention-for-masters-glory-after-superb-68-at-augusta-41536007.html Shane Lowry in contention for Masters glory after a superb 68 in Augusta