Vincent Hogan: ‘No green jacket, but a lot to love about Shane Lowry’s Masters’

He wore his Portrush Sunday black, but it became a funereal choice of color for Shane Lowry as his Masters challenge fell apart with an errant swing from a four-iron yesterday.

We will probably find it difficult to explain the sheer awkwardness of this four-man tee shot, the worst of the dark memories he will keep rry a tumultuous week in Georgia. But make no mistake, Lowry was a real presence in this Masters.

Granted, deep down he knew he had fallen too far off the pace with that back nine that fell apart in the third round on Saturday. In the tournament history, only Jackie Burke had come from further afield to claim the green jacket when he charged from eight o’clock on Saturday night to win in 1956.

Gary Player won a seven-time return, Figure Lo ironic needed to bridge the gap when walking to the first tee yesterday after a hug from his dad, Brendan.

There was plenty of pearl about Lowry’s expletive-filled rant against his caddy on the thirteenth in Saturday’s third round, as if the sound must have outraged those listening. Sky’s apologies for such outbursts are now essentially parody.

Because there’s a tunneled fury to the way big sports go after big prizes and what we saw from Lowry this week was the bubbling ruthlessness of someone long past that stage of having peace of mind by horticulture here.

He came to Augusta to win a green jacket, no less. This blowout on the thirteenth was an illustration of his competitive heat in this arena. Anyone inclined to take offense should yearn to live in a gingerbread house.

“People may not realize how much I want this!” he told a few of us under the famous old oak tree to have posted that 73. With just four tournament wins in twelve years as a professional, he sees the numbers as deeply unflattering and is eager to win more.

Don’t get me wrong, Lowry has no desire to be a tourist in this environment. This is his place of work, his office.

In this office, tension comes with every step a man takes, and for many that means sensitivities so high they can be disturbed by a butterfly passing in the wind.

But the truth is that he remains humanly reassuring in this world.

Ten minutes before his tee time on Saturday, he caught the eye of a fellow reporter who had been drawn into the media lottery to play at Augusta National today. Calling Philip Quinn to the ropes, Lowry offered his congratulations, chatting easily with all the smugness of a road sweeper.

Shortly after, his ball in a bunker (his first of the week) to the left of the first green, he had the pleasure of a somewhat drunken loudmouth for company just behind the ropes. As Lowry went to address his prom, he was met with a beaming assurance that the challenge he faced was “a piece of cake” and then “a walk in the park”.

If the same discourtesy had been shown to, say, Tiger, chances are security had been called.

But Lowry shrugged with a sensational uptick and was in sublime control of things until that scruffy corner on nine sent anxiety creeping its way into his round.

There is an intimacy at Augusta National that means players are rarely unaware of what an opponent is doing. Five and six come to a critical point on the course and Amen Corner has the character of a theatrical set with its pictorial access to eleven, twelve and thirteen.

A deep roar right behind can send anxiety deep within you, creating a force field of emotions from which it’s almost impossible to stop you from glancing at the plain white dashboards. .

Most of the news on Saturday was unpromising from behind, especially once at nine o’clock.

By the time Lowry reached second yesterday McIlroy had almost ghosted those boards to sit just a shot behind his former Irish amateur teammate and it was not unreasonable at the time to wonder why the latter was only meeting polite apathy. .

By mid-afternoon we had Irishmen fourth and fifth in the 86th Masters, although both still residing in a different postcode than the last marquee couple. But Lowry’s Masters actually ended with one of the worst irons he had ever hit, leading to that ugly triple on the par three fourth.

He will have hated it after speaking on Saturday night about his growing frustration that despite playing ‘the best golf of my life’ and facing impressive consistency over the past twelve months, he hasn’t won since that Sunday. remarkable on the Northwest Coast three years ago.

He and McIlroy were teammates at the 2006 European Youths in Sotogrande, but the sense of hierarchy between them was unambiguous.

“Rory was better than everyone else,” he once recalled. “He always hit longer and he was the guy who wore the flashy clothes.”

Lowry was only the third amateur in history to win a professional event on the European Tour with this victory at the 2009 Irish Open in Baltray (he drove a dented Mitsubishi Colt there and, two days later, found himself in the back of a driver-driven Audi) but missed his first three cuts as a professional.

It took time to feel comfortable in that environment, Lowry once admitted nine practice holes with McIlroy at the 2011 US Open in Congress on Wednesday (which Rory went on to win) left him feel like a handicapped ten.

But what we’ve seen from Clara’s man lately is an ease at this altitude, even a feeling of being energized playing in the biggest tournaments. He will always believe he should have won the 2016 US Open and, despite winning the Claret Jug three years later, he has a total of six top ten finishes in major tournaments.

A single inexplicable aberration ended his pursuit of the green jacket here yesterday when, as many predicted, it was McIlroy who came charging across the pitch, the red numbers spinning next to his name like numbers on a slot machine.

But to tell the truth, only one of them disputed this Master. And he wasn’t the man who was hounding Augusta.