McGinley backs Lowry's mental and physical fitness: "Outside Jordan, Shane was the best player today"

McGinley backs Lowry's mental and physical fitness: "Outside Jordan, Shane was the best player today"
 Shane Lowry speaks to the media after his opening 68 at The Masters

Shane Lowry speaks to the media after his opening 68 at The Masters

Paul McGinley reckons that only Jordan Spieth was better than Shane Lowry — physically and mentally — in round one of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National 

As Rory McIlroy made late mental errors, the 29-year old world No 32 opened with a 68 to share second place with Danny Lee, two strokes behind defending champion Spieth.

And McGinley, who is a keen observer of strategy and mental strength, was hugely impressed by what he saw from Lowry on a day when the likes of Rickie Fowler (80) and Bubba Watson (75) lost the plot and Jason Day followed a five under par front nine with a five over par homeward run

"This course wears you out mentally," the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain said. "We saw Jason Day make big mistakes at the end. We saw Bubba Watson make mistakes on the back nine and we saw Rory make mistakes at the end. And it is because of the relentlessness of the golf course.

"You can't switch off. If you are not on it mentally for 18 holes, it can reach up and grab you like it did with those guys.

"You just have to be on it. Shane mentally, outside of Jordan, was probably the best player out there today. He led greens in regulation, he never seemed to get out of position. He was always in the fairway, always on the green and he did everything right.

"His iron shots were great too. Great shot into 16, great shot into 17, great shot into 18. Okay, he laid up on 15 but he was great. Mentally, he was great. Three more of those......."

All this stuff about him carrying weight and not being fit is rubbish. He is fit and he is mentally fit.
— Paul McGinley on Shane Lowry's fitness

McGinley's voice trailed off but Lowry will not need to be reminded that he can't get ahead of himself. 

"You would probably say, of all the players in the afternoon session in terms of how they played, Shane  finished the strongest," McGinley added. 

Lowry's strength and conditioning trainer Robbie Cannon and coach Neil Manchip and take pride in Lowry's focus and physical drive down the back nine.

"All this stuff about him carrying weight and not being fit is rubbish," McGinley said. "He is fit and he is mentally fit.

"Rickie Fowler, the course just wore him down. It got to him. That's why the Masters is so special."

As for McIlroy, who remained patient and picked off his birdies, then eagled the 13th only to finish erratically, McGinley is not too concerned.

He said: "Rory was doing great until 15. He shot 70. He is not out of it at four off the lead. But he needs to tighten things up, as we have been saying all year.  

"I think he should be buoyed by the fact that he is only four off the lead and shot two under par with some mistakes. Of course, he is disappointed but he's just four back."

Lowry is not getting head of himself or looking back on the WGC Bridgestone Invitational for confidence.

On dreams of a green jacket getting in the way, he said: "I mean, it's hard not to.  I'm sure I'm going to be sitting back tonight thinking at some stage about wearing a green jacket.  I'm only human.  I'm going to do that. 

"But I've just got to kind of give myself a slap in the face and get myself back into reality and try to get down to business and keep hitting good shots and see where that leaves me at the end of the week."