Shane Lowry stood on the 72nd tee of the Champion Course at PGA National Resort and knew par might not be good enough.
Lowry was tied with Sepp Straka on top of The Honda Classic leaderboard, but Straka, in the pairing ahead, had the first chance to post a score. After hitting a towering 334-yard drive, Straka found the green from 192 yards and would eventually two-putt for birdie and the clubhouse lead.
Back on the 18th tee, with heavy rain pouring down, Lowry was concerned he wasn’t going to be able to clear the bunker Straka did on 18. He didn’t; he made par, and after the round, Lowry was asked about that ill-timed rain, which only started when Lowry was on 17 green and after Straka teed off on 18.
“Yeah, it’s hard to take, to be honest,” Lowry said. “Feel like I’ve got the tournament stolen from me today. You know, [Straka’s] gone three under the last five on this course. I played the golf perfectly to win the tournament, and that’s this game sometimes and that’s this level. He finished well. Yeah, the last hole was — that was as bad a break as I’ve ever got. You know, especially when you’re standing on the tee and you see him over that left bunker, which I would’ve been able to do if there was no rain, because I need a drive and a 4- or 5-iron. Probably would’ve given myself a better chance with a 4.”
Straka’s drive on 18 went 334 yards compared to Lowry’s 241 yards. Lowry, who drew his tee shot into the rough, had no chance of hitting the green from 276 yards out, so he laid up to 114 yards, wedged to 42 1/2 feet and missed his birdie putt. His two-putt par was good for a solo second-place finish. Straka won for the first time in his PGA Tour career.
The below graphic shows how both players played the 18th on Sunday.
Lowry didn’t take on those fairway bunkers in his previous three rounds; he found the fairway right of them all three times. He two-putted for birdie on Thursday, was about 30 yards short on Friday and laid up to 110 yards on Saturday, both resulting in pars.
“It’s a tough one to take,” Lowry said. “There is obviously a lot of positives to take from the whole event. You know, probably played some of the best golf my whole career this week I feel around a very tough golf course.
“… The next 24 hours will be tough, but my kids are here and my family. I’ll get on with my life tomorrow and I’ll be fine.”
In his final question from the media, a reporter told Lowry bad breaks even out.
“Hopefully in about five or six weeks in Augusta,” he said.