There are moments when you just have to stand up and be counted and Shane Lowry accomplished that mission to keep his Masters dream alive on a freaky Friday at Augusta National.
The Clara star, 29, confessed it would have been easy to throw in the towel and shoot in the 80s in gusting winds on a course where the average score was over 75 and players like Phil Mickelson shot 79 to miss the cut
But Lowry remained strong mentally for the second day running and dug deep to limit the damage to a 76 that leaves him on level par and well in the hunt heading into the weekend
As Darren Clarke posted a nightmare 84 to end up on 16 over and Graeme McDowell missed his sixth mixed cut in nine Master appearances with an 81— his worst score since he opened with a 79 on his debut in 2005 — Lowry’s bogey at the 18th was a mere flesh wound.
In Clarke’s case, it could be his last Masters appearance as he was playing on the final year of a five-year exemption for winning The Open in 2011.
But this looks like the start of a brilliant Masters future for Lowry, who missed the cut on his debut last year and made sure he was far better prepared this year
Disappointed to bogey the last but quietly pleased with the mental strength he showed over the first two rounds, Lowry said: “There is an 80 out there today without doing much wrong. You have to fight and grind for every par and that is what I did today.
“I felt like I fought really hard today and I was really disappointed to bogey the last because if I had been standing here one under I would have been really happy. But I am still in a decent spot for the weekend depending on what the leaders do.
“You have to be mentally strong and tough and I managed to keep my head on quite well today and play some golf.
“A little disappointed with 76 but the two round total is good. It’s up to me to do what I can tomorrow and give myself half a chance for Sunday.”
Two over after two — he missed the green at the first and then tugged his second a hair at the par-five second and ricocheted deep into the bushes — he kept his cool on a day when many lost the plot.
“It was tough,” Lowry said. “And I didn’t do myself any favours with the start I got off to which was just purely a mental error on the first and second and all of a sudden I have two bogeys on the card.”
A par save from 12 feet at the third steadied the ship and when he birdied the ninth to turn in one over, he was still inside the top five.
A bogey at the 11th, the toughest hole this week, almost felt like a par five.
But when he tugged his tee shot into the bushes at the 12th and ran up a double bogey five, he was happy to play the last six holes in level par and avoid any more heartache.
After chipping dead for birdie at the 13th, he three putted the 14th but then drained a 12 footer for birdie at the 15th to get back to one under for the tournament before that late bogey took just a little of the gloss off an otherwise decent day.
He added: “The par save on three got me going and I was off and running after that. I felt I played well today it was just so tough.
“I just tugged the tee shot on 12 and ended up in a bush. I dropped it on the bush and just got it out and then got up and down for five.
“It was actually a decent five in the end – there is no way I wanted to go back to that tee!
“There are just some pins you can’t get to. It was definitely a course set up for level par to be a good score today. When you get your chances you have to take them. I missed a great chance on 16 to get to two under but then I made a great par save on 17.”