Lowry downcast as Augusta amplifies every weakness

Lowry downcast as Augusta amplifies every weakness

Augusta National can be heaven when the putts are dropping and the roars are reverberating through the pines. But it's purgatory when the game is slipping away and Shane Lowry was in no mood for Masters joy after making a self-inflicted "comedy of errors" to open with a six-over 78.

The Clara man hit just six fairways and only seven greens in regulation as he mixed seven bogeys with just one birdie, each mistake amplifying his frustration and sending him a slippery slope towards the foot of the leaderboard.

Having been forced to sweat to remain in the world's top 50 just to make it into the tournament, Lowry was wondering if all the effort was worthwhile as a run of five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round smashed his pre-tournament optimism to smithereens.

"It's the hardest course in the world when it's getting away from you because you are hitting good shots to 30 feet and have a putt with 10 feet of break in it,” he said disconsolately, finishing the day tied for 80th in the 87-man field. 

"Everybody talks about the Masters and it almost gets annoying when you are on the border of getting in and people are annoying you about it. 

"And then you come here and shoot 78 in the first round. So what's the point in being here if you are doing that? 

"I put too much pressure on myself to get here and then I put too much pressure on myself when I get here to do well. It is all internal in my own head so I need to go and relax and let the golf take care of itself. 

"Like I said during the week, I am happy to be here. But am I happy to be here now? I am not sure.”

Just one-over par as he prepared to attack the ninth green from the middle of the fairway, he three-putted for bogey there, dropped another shot off a perfect drive at the 10th, bogeyed the 12th and 13th after errors from the tee and then three-putted the 15th for par before dumping his tee shot in the water at the 16th.

He got off to a nervy start as his opening drive clipped a tree and finished deep into woods forcing him to take his medicine and chip out sideways.

He was unlucky that his third spun off back from the holeside, leaving him 30 footer for par. But after making bogey there, he trickled into a deep bunker with his tee shot at the second and missed an eight-footer for birdie after following a good recovery with an excellent third.

He got back to level at the third, making a 20 footer from the back fringe, then got up and down for par after flaring his tee shot right at the 230-yard fourth.

He made an excellent four at the fifth but was fortunate to escape with a par at the short sixth, gunning his 50 footer so hard up the tier that it thumped the back of the hole and finished just four feet away when it might have gone 10 feet past.

Struggling off the tee, he bogeyed the seventh after finding a green side bunker following a drive that went left into the trees, then did well not to bogey the eighth after another pulled tee shot left him behind a pine tree and he had to make a six footer for par after his third from over 200 yards bounced through the green..

Never in control, his troubles started to multiply when three-putted from just off the green at the ninth, missing a four footer, then bogeyed the 10th when he came up short of the green with a nine iron from the middle of the fairway.

Now three-over, he steadied the ship with a solid par at the 11th but found sand short at the 12th and tugged a five-footer for par, then pulled his drive into the jungle left of Rae's Creek at the 13th and took six.

He did well to salvage par after a drive into trees at the 14th but his head was bursting at that stage and he three-putted the 15th from 50 feet for par and then found the lake at the 16th and did well to get up and down from 138 yards and save bogey.

"I tried my best,” he said. "It wasn't good enough. I don't know to be honest. I felt good in practice, and I was fairly comfortable going out there this morning. 

"Look, it was a comedy or errors around the middle of the round. I kept making on mistake after mistake and what summed it up was a bad bogey on nine and a great drive down ten and to hit a nine iron short of the green there was just braindead really.

"From there I felt I could still shoot a score, which you can around here. But I just didn't do it. The three-putt on 15 just summed up my whole day.”

He added: "I can't put my finger on it right now. I have to try and go out tomorrow and shoot a good score and see what happens.

"I felt like I was going great in practice. I was fairly confident going out there and it just didn't happen.”