Heartbreaking finish for golfer Lowry at Oakmont

Golf: Heartbreaking Lowry Oakmont finish
Golf: Heartbreaking Lowry Oakmont finish: Shane Lowry. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

An agonising final round for Shane Lowry saw the Offaly golfer become the first man since 1998 to let a four-shot lead slip in the US Open.

The Clara man finished two shots behind the eventual winner Dustin Johnson, as he claimed joint second place with Scott Piercy and Jim Furyk.

He said that he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ at missing out on his first major but would build on his solid performance from the first three rounds.

“It’s not easy to get yourself in the position I got myself in today,” he said afterwards. “It was there for the taking and I didn’t take it. I’m bitterly disappointed.

“But you can only learn from your mistakes. I always say it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.

“I’m sure I learned a lot from today and I don’t know what it is yet, but when I’m in that position again, and I know I will be, I’ll handle it probably a little bit better.”

Lowry’s putting had been spectacular over the first three days to give him such an advantage going into the final round. In 67 holes, he had only recorded one three-putt, before reaching the 14th green on Sunday. That saw the first of three three-putts in a row, when combined with dropping four shots over the first 10 holes meant he was giving American golfer Johnson every chance to catch up.

Controversy

Johnson’s round was marred with controversy too, after a penalty decision dominated social media discussion over the course of Sunday evening, with Irish golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell wading into the debate.

When playing the fifth green, Johnson’s ball moved slightly as he approached for his three-foot putt, and he immediately called over a USGA official to discuss the situation. Johnson told him that he had not moved the ball, and the official allowed the World No.3 to carry on his round without a penalty.

By the time he had reached the 12th tee, less than two hours later, he was approached by another rules official who said that although they were not issuing a penalty there and then, the video would be looked at in the clubhouse at the end of his round. It meant that Johnson, and every other golfer, was unclear of what the final result could be, as a one-shot penalty could have been ordered after their 18 holes were finished, changing the scoreboard entirely.

At that time Johnson was stood on -5, but he did not know if that actually meant -4, or if he had a one or two shot lead over Lowry.

The strain led to a momentary wobble from Johnson, but his experience shone through as he re-gathered his composure to close the 18th with a birdie and secure a three-stroke victory.

As this was going on, Rory McIlroy, who failed to make the cut for the final two days, and Graeme McDowell vented their anger on social media about the decisions of the USGA.

McIlroy called it a ‘farce’ and that it displayed ‘Amateur hour’ from the officials.

McDowell said that it was ruining the atmosphere of the final day of one of the sport’s biggest events.

“The @USGA are creating an incredibly anti-climatic scenario here during what should be an incredibly dramatic back nine on Sunday. Sort it,” he said.

Lowry himself insisted that his loss was not to be blamed on the controversy, as he heard about the issue as he was walking to the 12th tee.

“It didn’t affect the way I played. If anything, I credit Dustin for playing the way he played on the way in, having that hanging over him.

“I probably would have wanted to know straightaway if it was me.”

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