Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shane Lowry. Alas

The Irishman had it. The US Open was there for the taking. All he needed was a little sage advice from his caddie, or somebody he trusted before he teed off for the final round. It could have went something like this ----

[Hey dude. You've got a five shot lead and this course is tough. It's amazing you're at 7 under par, especially including that stupid penalty stroke you were forced to eat yesterday. Golf has some mighty dumb rules, but so be it.

Regardless, you don't need to go any lower. Four or five under is going to win this thing. So don't try to be a hero. Just maintain and play smart, conservative golf. If you can shoot this final round anywhere close to par, the championship will be yours.

Sure, a couple guys will probably make mini-charges, but they're already too far back. So forget trying to bomb 320 yard drives. Use a 3 wood, maybe even a 3 iron, whichever you're more comfortable with off the tee. But keep the shot in the fairway. Going into the ridiculous deep rough will cost you a stroke every time.

How are you supposed to reach the long par 5s in two? Don't even try. Just hit a couple shots maybe 260-280 yards and your third will be a short iron. Chances are you'll get a few birdie opportunities along the way, but it is key to have the ball on the green in regulation. Two putt pars will be just fine. Let the other guys take all the chances trying to be heroes. Most of them will pay for it dearly.

If you find yourself in a bunker, do not under any circumstances try to hit a miracle shot to make up for your prior mistake. Just get it out, safely back into the fairway, and at worst take bogey. You've got a few shots to play with and this is no time to get stupid.

A couple of the par 4s are rather short, even theoretically driveable, but it's fools gold. It takes a perfect shot to drive the ball on the green for an eagle possibility, but these holes are fraught with danger. The slightest miscue could have you hacking away to a double bogey -- or worse. Hey, they're a little over 300 yards. You can hit five iron and wedge for a birdie opportunity, and escape with a par at worst. Keep clicking off pars and you're in great shape.

Here's another tip. These greens are super-fast and have some serious slopes to them. When putting, don't try to ram it in the hole, or your next putt may be longer yet. Do it the Ben Crenshaw way. Try to have every putt die very close to the cup. Maybe it goes in, maybe not. But a tap-in for par is a whole lot better than looking at a 30 footer coming back because you got cocky with a birdie attempt.

Again, just keep it straight, even if short, and be happy if a birdie comes your way. But your mission is to play for no worse than pars.

And one more thing. Forget this is the US Open and the course is so ridiculously tough. It's just another golf tournament and you've played very well so far by being aggressive. Now is the time to dial it back and play boring, conservative golf. Take your pars and be happy.]

Instead, Lowry tried to go out with a bang and wound up self-destructing. The course ate him up rather than vice-versa.

As we know, Dustin Johnson would finally shed his "choke" tag to capture his first major. On Sunday, he didn't do anything spectacular, but carded a respectable 1 under par 69 (which included another stupid penalty stroke because his ball might have moved a thousandth of an inch when he was standing over it). And what kind of sadistic twisted minds came up with such petty draconian rules in the first place?

Lowry could have played it smart, but no. He tried to be a hero and would wind up carding a 6 over par final round of 76.

His once 5 shot lead turned into a 3 stroke deficit by the time the day was done. An eight shot swing in one round of golf is a big deal.

Somebody should have had a serious talk with the 29 year-old Irishman. It was there for the taking, but he blew it.

Dare I say -- Erin go blah?

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