Shane Lowry might have gone four gruelling rounds with the Blue Monster but he was a cogent in defeat as MMA star Conor McGregor and crystal clear about the big bouts that lie ahead.
A closing 73 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral left the pride of Clara in the middle of the pack on four over par, a little bruised around the temples but still standing after a week of near misses with the putter.
And while it’s still six months away he confessed that he will have to wield the wand a little better and win a big event if he is to make Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team.
The good news is that Lowry is in good spirits, not just about the state of his game but about the steep learning curve he has set for himself.
By trying to make the Ryder Cup team via a mainly PGA Tour based schedule, he is vying with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia for five Ryder Cup places via the world rankings.
He’s embracing the challenge, confident that it will make him a better player in the long run. But he’s also aware that it’s not going to be easy.
“I don’t know if you learn more from the defeats and Conor McGregor definitely wasn’t feeling as good this morning as would have felt if he had won,” Lowry said with a grin.
“Sport is like that, isn’t it. You have your ups and your downs and I think in golf you have more downs. You have more bad days that good ones.”
Having finished tied 53rd in the Honda Classic and tied 35th last night, Lowry knows that things could have been a lot different had a few putts fallen.
And yet far from pushing any panic buttons, he believes he’s close to pulling off another big win with the WGC-Dell Match Play, the Shell Houston Open and the Masters next on his schedule.
“I was looking for a lot more out of these two weeks but to be honest, but I feel like I am playing well and that’s a good thing,” said Lowry who was 49th in the 65-strong field for putting.
“I feel like I am very close but I didn’t putt well at all, which is strange because I haven’t felt as comfortable on the greens in a while. I am standing over them feeling good and I feel like I am putting a good stroke on her but they didn’t drop.”
“All I can say is that my game is very close and if I can hole a few putts, I can do anything. I just have to try and find something in my putting over the next few weeks before the Match Play.”
When it comes to the Ryder Cup, Lowry is ambitious and realistic in equal measure.
“Listen, I really want to play the Ryder Cup but I am over here to get better as a player and (my caddie) Dermot reminded me of that out there today,” he said. “Playing courses of this level week after week makes you a better player without even realising it.
“Obviously I want to make the Ryder Cup but I am going to have to win a big tournament to make the Ryder Cup team. That’s the way it is. If I do, great. If I don’t, I’ll be very disappointed but that’s the way golf is.
“Hopefully can do something good enough that if I din’t make the team, it will give Darren something to think about. I am playing over here and the fact that the Ryder Cup is over here can only be a good thing.
“Every tournament I am playing is big and tough so if I am to perform on this schedule, I am going to have to putt better.”
Lowry landed a PGA Tour fine for bad language on live TV during the Honda Classic. He certainly e had to count to three a few times at Trump National Doral, where birdie putts burned the edge and Blue Monster punished every mistake
Forced to hole a five footer for par at the first, he missed a good chance at the second but made a sensational birdie at the third — a hole where he’d been force to take his shoes and socks off to play his third shot on Saturday — with a 165-yard approach to just three feet.
He appeared destined for a quiet day with Kevin Na, their fourth in a row. But his second to the seventh ballooned up in the wind and came up short in the lake, forcing him to get up and down from 115 yards courtesy of a 15 foot putt for bogey.
Out in level, Lowry’s hopes of a making a back nine charge for a big cheque ended at 10th, where Na barely made the fairway with a 240 yard shot into the teeth of the wind
Lowry found water and while he muffled an angry curse, there were no TV cameras in sight as he ran up a double bogey seven.
The rest of the round yielded some excellent golf such as the birdie from 150 yards at the 12th, the sand save for par at the 14th and the two-putt birdie from 52 feet after a 313-yard drive to the heart of the 16th.
A three putt bogey from 65 feet at the 15th was his only error on a day when a north wind gusting over 20 mph made life tough for the afternoon starters.
Those later starters included Graeme McDowell, who he was heading for a top 15 finish at one under for the day and two under for the tournament until he ran up a quadruple bogey eight at the treacherous 18th, closing with a 75 to share 28th on two over.
The 35-year old is gaining confidence all the time as he explained on Saturday and he's feeling very good about the state of his game and an exciting schedule that will see him play the Valspar Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and, providing he remains in the world's top 64, the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play in San Antonio.
"This is only week two of five," said McDowell after round three. "I will just be resting up between now and Thursday in Tampa. It's a busy schedule but a good schedule."