ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI | If you had looked at Shane Lowry’s performances this year you wouldn’t believe he was the same man as the one who led the 2016 US Open by four strokes with one round to play. He had failed to finish in the top ten of any tournament in which he had played, had fallen to 88th in the world rankings and was 150th in money winnings.
But every run, whether good or bad, has to end and at Bellerive, Lowry’s certainly did. Many players didn’t like the soft conditions and the extreme heat punctuated by heavy rain on Friday that made the St Louis course a bomber’s paradise. But Lowry did. His first three rounds were 69, 64 and 69 again and on Saturday night he had a broad smile on his sunburned face as he contemplated his position in the tournament, joint sixth, four strokes behind Brooks Koepka, the leader.
Welcome back, Shane Lowry, you of the round waistline and the significant beard, you who look like an Irish folk singer who could be playing spoons in an Irish bar. We have missed you.
Lowry is hopeful that after changing his caddie, Dermot Byrne, after the first round of the Open at Carnoustie, using Neil Manchip, his coach, for the second round, and his brother Alan since, he has turned a corner. “I played lovely in Canada [where he finished 12th] and I know I’m in good form. The only thing I did wrong today was not to birdie either of the two par 5s.
But then he clawed at that shaggy beard that frames his round face and smiled. “It doesn’t get much better than to be deep in the action on a Sunday afternoon at the PGA,” Lowry said. “I’ll go and have a good rest now, something to eat, come out tomorrow refreshed and do my best to make a better job than the last time.” This was a deprecating reference to his performance at Oakmont two years ago when he fell from leading the US Open to share second place three strokes behind Dustin Johnson.
If nice guys do well, Lowry will do very well indeed.