PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Ireland’s Shane Lowry faced a difficult short-side pitch after a poor approach into the 11th hole in Saturday’s third round of The Honda Classic at PGA National. He was staring at his first bogey of the day.
From 55 feet, he’d have been happy to get his ball within 10 feet of the hole, knowing the hot putter he was wielding might be able to keep his scorecard clean. The pitch came off nicely but had some pace on it until the ball hit the flagstick squarely and vanished in the hole for birdie. Lowry could only laugh.
He then birdied his next two holes, though PGA National caught up with him at 14 and 17, where he failed to make pars.
On that 11th, though, it was almost as if somebody somewhere was looking out for him.
Lowry, who was the heartbreak runner-up at the Honda a year ago, will begin Sunday’s final round four shots behind leader Chris Kirk after shooting 5-under 65. And to think, all he wanted on Thursday morning was to withdraw and catch a flight to Ireland.
His uncle, Jimmy Lowry, two years older than Shane’s dad, Brendan, passed away suddenly on Thursday. Lowry comes from a close-knit family in Ireland, and his first instinct was to get home, and to be with his dad, a former Gaelic sports standout who Shane said, at heart, is "a softy." Shane sported a green ribbon on his hat on Saturday and said he is playing for his uncle this week.
“It's very sad week for our family. To be honest, I wanted to go home on Thursday when I heard the news,” Lowry said. “A lot of people talked me out of it. I'm here now. I'm trying to play for him and play for his wife and his kids and my cousins and my uncles and my aunts and everyone at home because we're a very close family and very proud of our name and very proud of where we come from.”
Jimmy Lowry was 66, and one of Shane’s biggest supporters. The ribbon that Lowry wore on Saturday was green and white, representing where Jimmy was from, Forbane, in County Offaly, the same place where young Shane learned to play golf.
Lowry was emotional talking about his uncle.
“He's just a great man. He loved working. He loved hard work. He loved hardship. He was big into Gaelic games at home. He didn't necessarily play at the highest level, but he was very involved and loved in the community, and he was just a great man,” he said. “He was great craic, and I loved him.”
Lowry, the 2019 winner of The Open Championship, which he captured in Northern Ireland, said earlier this week he was scheduled for a busy stretch, planning to play eight of nine weeks. A year ago at Honda, he and Sepp Straka were tied on the 72nd hole. Just after Straka teed off, hitting a 330-yard drive at the par-5 18th, Lowry stood on the tee as the sky opened and rains pelted down. He hit a poor drive and was not able to reach the green in two, as Straka did on his way to a winning birdie. Lowry made par. Lowry will tell you there were no guarantees he was making birdie, but it was a bad break for the Irishman.
But as Lowry learned on the 11th hole Saturday, sometimes those types of breaks seem to even out. With one round to go, he hopes that he has something special in store to honor someone very special to him.
“Yeah, hopefully I can go out and make him proud tomorrow,” Lowry said. “Everyone keeps telling me how proud he was of me over the last number of years, and hopefully I can do him another day proud tomorrow.”