GARDENS OF PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — Shane Lowry, an Irish native, grew up playing some of the world’s most difficult golf courses. The Royal Portrush Golf Club, where he won the 2019 Open Championship, is one of them.
Lowry considers the Champion Course at PGA National to be one of the most difficult courses he has ever played now that he resides in Jupiter. So it came as no surprise that he shot a 3-under-par 67 on Saturday to tie for second place in the Honda Classic.
“I enjoy the setup here, and I like this type of golf course where I can score 2- or 3-under and be happy with myself,” Lowry said. “I feel like we play too many weeks when it’s 20-, 25-under winning tournaments, so this is a lot more pleasant for me.”
“Lowry, 34, fired 70-67-67 for a 6 under par 204 total, five strokes behind leader Daniel Berger, who is one of just six players in the top 25 at the Honda with a world ranking of No. 21.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a really good field,” Lowry added. “I think the golf course is outstanding.” It’s wonderful to be here. I believe the location in the schedule is inconvenient for many participants.”
Lowry, like the other 72 players who made the cut, found judging speed on the hard greens difficult.
He made four birdie putts, two on the front nine and two on the back, but none was longer than a 20-footer on the 476-yard par 4 sixth hole, which is ordinarily a par 5. His tee shot went into a fairway bunker, and his second shot went 94 yards, leaving him 102 yards from the hole, but he got up and down for a par.
Lowry stated, “That was terrific for momentum.” “However, I have it in my head that you’re going to make bogeys out here; all you have to do is keep the doubles off the card and try to make birdies when you do get the opportunity, and hopefully you’ll shoot a good score at the end of the day.”
“I believe I’m in a decent frame of mind at the moment.” I’m taking the bad breaks in stride and focusing on the positive breaks and shots before moving on to the next one. However, it was quite significant in terms of momentum.”
Lowry, who started the day seven strokes down, two-putted for birdie on the par-5 third hole then nailed a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fourth hole. He bogeyed the par-3 seventh after missing the green to the left and failing to recover to finish in 34.
He sank a 112-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole and another 11-foot birdie putt on the 12th, then strung together six consecutive pars to secure a berth in the last pairing with Berger on Sunday.
Lowry’s first PGA Tour event of the year, and his fourth of the 2021-22 season, is the Honda. He enters the competition having competed in three Middle Eastern tournaments.
“I was in the final group in Abu Dhabi with a chance to win, and I played decent the next two weeks and feel like my game is in excellent shape,” Lowry said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of attempting to win a PGA Tour tournament tomorrow.”
Sunday tee timings at Honda
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Argentina’s Martin Contini made his debut PGA Tour tournament memorable on Saturday when he went into the stands on the par-5 18th hole to collect his errant second shot.
Contini, who was one of three open qualifiers for the Honda, blasted a 3-wood from the rough 251 yards from the hole that flew left into the grandstands.
He described it as “a tremendously difficult and challenging shot.” “I was expecting something like that to happen, so it didn’t surprise me.”
The fact that Contini climbed into the stands to retrieve his golf ball from under a spectator’s foot was unexpected. He was given a free drop 49 yards from the hole in the rough. He hit his third shot onto the green and two-putted for par, enough for an even-par 70 and a tie for seventh place at 2 under par 208.
“Yeah, that was crazy,” Contini replied. “That was insane, and it was hilarious.” “It turned out to be absolutely amazing.”