Invitations to swanky parties are great if your dress suit has come back from the cleaners. But Shane Lowry’s black tie game has generally been missing when it comes to his PGA Tour appearances this year.
A first round win over world No 1 Rory McIlroy in the WGC-Accenture Match Play thrust the Offaly man into the American golfing consciousness for the first time since he won the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur.
But while he followed up with a convincing victory over Carl Pettersson in the second round before falling to Graeme McDowell, he’s found the American dream to be elusive since then.
After missing the cut in Puerto Rico and then in the Shell Houston Open, he produced some great golf in San Antonio to finish tied 15th and earn $93,000 before opening with a two over 74 in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last night.
Crucially, he had 36 putts on the greens, missed two short putts and didn’t hole anything of consequence until he knocked in a 12 footer for his lone birdie of the day at the par-five 18th.
Add all that together and it’s no surprise he’s tied for 125th in the 156-man field, 10 strokes behind Ricky Barnes (64) and three shots outside the projected cut line. Welcome to America.
Yet who could blame him for preferring a trip to New Orleans ahead of South Korea and China on the European Tour over the next few weeks.
His 15th place finish in San Antonio was worth $93,000 more than he would have earned on the fractured European circuit that week as there was no tournament.
Where the world No 79 goes with his career now is sure to make fascinating viewing given that he’s exempt for some massive tourmanents over the next four months.
The Volvo World Match Play in Bulgaria, the BMW PGA at Wentworth and the Irish Open will get the ball rolling and give Lowry the chance to make the leap into the world’s top 50 that would ease the road ahead and give him a better chance of winning his PGA Tour card through the non-member’s money list.
“I’m really looking forward to the summer,” he said last month. “It’s quite exciting. If I get into the US Open it’s going to be a great schedule because I’ve got Irish Open, French Open, Scottish Open, British Open, the Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA, all of them massive tournaments.
“That’s where I feel I can perform my best. I’d love to try and cement my place in that top-50. Obviously I’d love to get another win or get in contention again. I’m quite optimistic about it all.”
Lowry needs to start play well to take advanatge of his opportunities and last night’s opening round in New Orleans has left him struggling to make the cut.
A couple of wayard drives cost him dear but it was his inability to get the ball close to the hole that led him taking a suicidal 36 putts.
While two missed putts inside five feet and a couple of wayward drives hurt his score, he was constantly putting from 30 feet and simply never got going.
A good second round could do wonders for his confidence ahead of next month’s Volvo World Match Play and that tasty picnic of summer events.