Séamus Power was saved by his putter but Shane Lowry admitted he felt awful on the greens as a second successive 72 left him seven shots off the early clubhouse lead in the US Open at Brookline.
he powerful West Waterford man made five putts between nine and 45 feet in an adventurous, level par 70 to trail world number one Scottie Scheffler and qualifier Nick Hardy by just four strokes on one-over.
But Lowry headed for his rental house looking for some GAA solace on TV before heading back to the course for some late putting practice. Although as the scoring picked up among the late starters his chance of making the cut was fading.
Ironically, it was the midlander who was the happier of the two with his long game after another gruelling round at The Country Club.
Power is becoming a seriously impressive player at the highest level and helped by caddie Simon Keeling, he managed to avoid getting over-frustrated by his painfully slow playing partner, the Korean Joohyung Kim (19).
He admitted his putter was key to keeping alive his hopes of making a title run over the weekend despite having just 10 Major rounds under his belt.
“I made a couple of nice ones from distance, which is just huge,” Power said of his putting. “You feel like it’s a double bonus when the course is playing hard and you’re just able to keep in there. Hopefully I figure something out on the range in the afternoon and hopefully the putter stays hot for the weekend.”
Starting on the back nine, the world number 41 rolled in a right-to-left breaking 45 footer at the 12th to get back to level for the Championship in the course of a rollercoaster round.
After lipping out from five feet at the 13th, he made a 16 footer for par at the 15th, handed that shot back at the 191-yard 16th, then rolled in a slick 10 footer for birdie at the 17th only to plummet into the front bunker at the 18th and drop another shot.
It was similar fare on the back nine as he brushed in a 25 footer for birdie at the third but missed the sixth and seventh greens and dropped two shots. But he rescued his day by following a birdie from 15 feet at the par-five eighth by almost holing a high-tariff bunker shot when short-sided at the ninth.
With the top 50 covered by just five shots as he finished, Power knows a decent third round could put him in the shake up.
“If you can just hang in there and get hot for maybe nine holes over the weekend it could be all that it is going to take,” he said.
“You still get frustrated and all that but the thing with the Majors is you have got to snap out of it pretty fast because you can turn one mistake into two dropped shots pretty quickly. I have been smart when I have got out of position and I think that’s huge, didn’t get any doubles, it is hard to get shots back so avoiding those so far has been key.”
Masters champion Scheffler dropped two early shots but birdied the eighth, then came home in 31 to shoot 67 and tie for the early clubhouse lead on three-under with American qualifier Hardy, who shot 68 to leave them one stroke clear of overnight leader Adam Hadwin, who shot 72 to sit alongside Matt Fitzpatrick (70) and Sam Burns (67)
Lowry looked destined for a good day on the greens when he rammed in a 40 footer for an opening birdie at the 10th. But it was not to be as he racked up four three-putts.
He would three-putt the 12th from above the hole, miss 15 footers for birdies at the 13th and 14th, then three-putt the 16th from 45 feet and drop another shot at the 190-yard 16th, where he was unlucky to end up in the wispy fescue just above a bunker.
The Offaly man feared the worst when he three-putted the par-three second to go five-over for the championship but he sandwiched another three-putt bogey at the sixth between birdies at the fifth and seventh to finish on four-over.
“Ah look, yeah I’m in for the weekend, I’m sure,” Lowry said of the cut for the top 60, before the weather improved and cut projection changed from four over to three over. “If I can somehow find something on the greens, I can get back to maybe to par to better for the tournament over the weekend and that could be a good week.
“Tee to green, my game was pretty flawless today so I’m a little bit disappointed with my score. When I went five-over for the tournament at the second (11th), I wasn’t very hopeful from there and I was thinking about the 9:30 home from Boston tonight.
As for his putting, he said: “Honestly, I feel really bad on the greens at the minute. It’s a mental thing for me. I putted average last week but I’ve been putting lovely for the guts of a year now but you can’t judge at all on a week or a couple of days.
“I’m going do a bit of work later on this evening but I’m going away now because Offaly are playing a minor All-Ireland semi-final this evening so I’m going to go home and watch that and then come back and do an hour’s putting this evening.
“Hopefully Clare don’t put me in a bad mood but they probably will the way Offaly GAA is going. But we’ve got a big weekend with this afternoon and then Sunday against Westmeath is a big one for me. I was actually thinking I might get to see that at some stage.
“If I had putted anything similar to what I have been doing of late I am pretty sure I’ve been near the top of the leaderboard.”
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