Shane Lowry might not have set the world on fire at the US PGA at Southern Hills but, just like pal Rory McIlroy, he knows he just has to remain patient and keep playing the golf he’s playing to have more chances to add to this major haul.
As McIlroy was bidding to pull off an improbable Sunday charge from nine behind, the Offaly man made 17 pars and one birdie in a one-under 69 to finish inside the top-25 without ever hitting top gear.
He might be winless since he captured The Open in 2019, but insists he must simply remain patient and he will have further chances to lift another Major.
“Like I said to Bo (Martin, his caddie) going down the last, I feel like I’m two or three shots away from having a good week,” Lowry said. “But I’m disappointed because I feel like I could’ve done better this week.
“It is still another decent performance, there’s no real bad things to take away from that. Yes, I got up and down a good few times when I need to do, but I did miss quite a few chances out there to shoot a decent score.
“So I played nice golf, but then again I holed some nice putts when I needed to for pars. I felt like I was holing the putts for par but missing for birdies and that’s the way it was all day.
“But it is another decent performance and I’m going to finish in the top-30 somewhere. It’ll be a few FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai points. It is what it is and I’m happy enough for the week.
“There are no real things I need to go away and work on and I’m looking forward to the next big one.
“The only thing I can say is I think I was not far away. Even though I’m not going to finish up near the leaders, I think I wasn’t that far away this week and as long as I feel like that, I’m happy.”
As for McIlroy’s chase for that elusive fifth Major, Lowry believes the critics need to be more understanding of the Holywood star.
“The armchair golfers don’t realise how hard it is out here,” he said. “It’s not as easy as shooting 65 in the first round.
“I saw a quote from him from last week, I don’t know when it was from, where was he hasn’t won a Major since 2014, but he has pretty much done everything else you have to do in the world of golf.
“So it’s not like he’s in a slump. It’s almost like you’re a victim of your own success. People expected him to win 10 Majors when he won those four and it just hasn’t worked out like that. But he’s only 33 now and he has still got a long way to go in his career.”
Lowry made a nine-footer for par at the first, a 10-footer for par at the second, and a five-footer for par at the third after bunkering his approach. It shows how much he has improved his putting under Stephen Sweeney, the West Palm Beach putting coach, who also looks after Mito Pereira and Joaquin Niemann.
“He’s improved a lot over the past 12 months,” Sweeney said in Tulsa yesterday. “When he’s home, there probably isn’t a day goes by he doesn’t come to see me.
“He’s made a big improvement from four to eight feet and his distance control on the long ones has also improved, so he doesn’t leave himself as many tricky second putts. He works incredibly hard. Far more than people think.”
Lowry got up and down from sand at the eighth before finally rolling in a 15-footer for his lone birdie of the day at the 11th.
He had further chances coming in, but while an 18-footer slipped past the cut at the 18th, he gave the two-foot return putt extra attention to finish with a clean card.
“I was eager not to bogey the last,” he said. “I was conscious of that and, to be honest, I thought if I could roll that in I would have finished somewhere inside the top-20, which would have been nice. It is what it is.”
With two top-three finishes in his last seven starts, Lowry is playing the most consistent golf of his career. But he’s not taking it for granted as he prepares for the Memorial Tournament and the RBC Canadian Open before heading for the US Open at Brookline.
“You still need to knock off performances like this and you still need to learn,” he said. “The thing for me is I felt like the last couple of months I’ve been up there every week and today felt a little flat at times.
“I felt like I was struggling to get it going. You could see I wasn’t far away, and if I made three birdies in a row you have a chance of a really nice week.
“I just still need to have these weeks and remain patient and keep playing good golf in these tournaments, and if I keep doing that I will be OK.
“I’m not taking anything for granted. I know how fickle this game is. I know I need to take the rough with the smooth and just kind of be myself and go about my business and not try to force these good weeks because you just don’t know what’s around the corner.
“I’ve got a good run of events leading up to Brookline now and I just need to go and prepare as well as I can.”
Tied ninth in the US Open at Chambers Bay in 2015 and tied second at Oakmont the following year, when he had a four-shot lead after 54 holes, he knows the pressure will be on him in Irish-mad Boston this year.
“I’ve heard I’m going to be quite popular there,” he said with a grin. “So hopefully I can bring some good golf there and give them something to shout about.”