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Shane Lowry rides out storm to target a top-ten finish

By Karl MacGinty

Golf is not and never has been a fair game, Jack Nicklaus famously said.

Links golf in particular, especially at the Open, where there's a one-tee start and more than nine hours between the start time for the first player off and the last.

For example, those who went out late in Thursday's first round at Hoylake and played early yesterday endured tougher playing conditions by far over the first two days than the lucky fellows on the opposite end of the timesheet.

Of the 32 players who beat par in the first round, only 12 set out late, while six managed to break 72 by lunchtime yesterday after a morning in which powerful south-easterly breezes regularly gusted to 32mph.

By the time Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler, to name but three, swept through the turn in the second round, the wind had dropped almost to a whisper.

This gives added weight to the sterling efforts of South African George Coetzee in defiance of the elements as he compiled remarkable rounds of 70 and 69 to propel himself into contention on five-under.

Ireland's Shane Lowry appeared to be coping capably with the conditions until his tee shot at seven sailed into an awful lie under fescues to the left of the fairway.

Even for his round at that point after calmly following bogey at four with birdie at five, Lowry took the right option. He laid-up to about 135 yards, followed by a "poor enough third shot" to the front fringe and an infuriating three-putt for a desperate double-bogey.

Minutes later, Lowry discovered as he walked after his four-iron tee shot at eight that his ball had fallen short of the fairway and out of bounds.

"I felt I hit a decent shot and fully expected to see my ball in the fairway," he said, declining to elaborate on his thoughts as he returned to the tee. Another double-bogey six went on the card.

There was no mistaking Lowry's emotions as he missed the green at nine on his way to a bogey four.

For a moment, he considered "doing a Henrik Stenson" and breaking the club, but then decided, "I might need it later on in the round".

Instead, Lowry threw the offending five-iron down the tee.

"I'm that type of player. If I bottle it up, it could come out really bad. So I think if I just let it go, give myself a bit of a talking to and get annoyed, it really helps," he said.

Still, such blatant acts of petulance really should have no place at golf's oldest and greatest stage. To Lowry's great credit, however, he quickly recovered his composure.

As on Thursday when he also gave himself a good "talking to" going down 10 and then played the back nine in five-under-par, the 27-year-old showed he has developed an admirable capacity to regroup.

He gave himself several chances on the way home, converting two at 10 and 18, to enter the weekend on one-under-par and keep alive his hopes of a first top-10 finish in seven visits to the Majors.

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