PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Shane Lowry didn’t see a round like this coming. The 29-year-old Irishman shot 7-under 65 Thursday in the first round of The Players Championship, which included a sizzling course-record, back-nine 29.
One day earlier, during his practice round, Lowry said he had a “meltdown” in the midst of playing the same nine that he would go on to torch.
“I almost wasn’t looking forward to the week,” said Lowry, the winner of the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Lowry credited a tip from Graeme McDowell with setting his putting straight.
“I was just getting a little over the ball a little too close, and he just told me move it an inch away from where it is and see how it feels then. And for some reason it just felt like it was easier to see my lines,” Lowry said.
Lowry missed the cut in his Players debut in 2015, and headed to the first tee at 7:48 a.m. Thursday with one thought in mind: to see whether he could get four rounds under his belt ahead of next week’s Irish Open. It wasn’t looking so good for Lowry after making the turn in a pedestrian score of 36. Then he caught fire.
Lowry canned a 36-foot birdie putt at the 10th, pitched in for eagle-3 from 25 feet left of the flag at the 11th and converted short birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 to cap off a 5-under, four-hole stretch. A tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th followed by a 13-foot birdie at 18 completed a record-low back nine. (Fifteen players had gone as low as 30.)
Shane Lowry’s back-nine 29 Thursday at TPC Sawgrass set a Stadium Course record. Here are the players who previously held the record (30).
- John Cook, 1991
- Greg Norman, 1994
- Phil Mickelson, 1996
- Kirk Triplett, 1996
- Justin Leonard, 1996
- Taylor Smith, 1997
- Padraig Harrington, 2004
- Joe Durant, 2005
- Charl Schwartzel, 2007
- Daniel Chopra, 2009
- Ryan Moore, 2010
- Kevin Na, 2012
- Luke Donald, 2012
- Russell Henley, 2014
- Geoff Ogilvy, 2014
Soft greens and a lack of wind left TPC Sawgrass practically defenseless, but Lowry wouldn’t let anything diminish his accomplishment.
“It’s probably as good a golf course as we play all year,” Lowry said. “It’s a proper test of golf. And to go out and do it on that nine was nice.”