Shane Lowry embraces the tough Champion course at Honda Classic

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Originally from Ireland, Shane Lowry grew up playing some of the toughest golf courses in the world. They include the Royal Portrush Golf Club, where he won the 2019 Open Championship.

Now that he lives in Jupiter, Lowry rates the PGA National Champion course as one of the toughest he plays. So he was thrilled to shoot a 3-under 67 on Saturday to move into a tie for second in the Honda Classic.

“I love the setup here, and I like this kind of golf course where if I shoot 2 or 3 cents and I’m happy with myself, that’s the type of golf course I like,” said Lowry said. “I personally feel like too many weeks we play where there are 20, 25 under winning tournaments, so for me it’s nicer than that.”

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Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts to his second shot on the third hole during the third round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort And Spa on February 26, 2022 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Lowry, 34, posted scores of 70-67-67 for a 6-under 204, five strokes behind leader Daniel Berger, who, ranked 21st in the world, is one of only six players in the top 25 at Honda.

“It’s actually a shame we don’t have a really strong field here,” Lowry said. “I think the golf course is really, really good. I really like it here. I think the slot in the schedule doesn’t really work for a lot of players.

Like the other 72 players who made the cut, Lowry found the firm greens difficult when judging speed.

He converted four birdie putts, two on the front nine and two on the backstroke, but no putt was bigger than a 20-footer he sank on the 476-yard par-4 sixth hole, which plays normally like a par 5. His tee shot landed in a fairway bunker and he hit his second shot 94 yards, leaving himself 102 yards from the hole, but he went up and down for his par.

“It was good for the momentum,” Lowry said. “But I have it in my head that you’re probably going to bogey here, just keep the doubles off the map and try to birdie when you get the chance and hope you shoot one. good score at the end of the day.

“I think I’m in a good frame of mind that way. I take the bad breaks on the chin and I take the good breaks and the good shots and I move on and try the next one. But it was huge for momentum.

Shane Lowry of Ireland plays his shot from the 17th tee during the second round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort And Spa on February 25, 2022 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Lowry, who started the day seven shots shy of the lead, putt twice for a birdie on the par-5 third hole and sank a 9-foot putt for a birdie on the fourth hole. He bogeyed the par-3 seventh when he missed the green to the left and failed to get up and down to go out in 34.

He birdied the 11th hole, sinking an 11-and-a-half-foot putt, and made another 11-foot birdie putt on the 12th, then chained six straight pars to earn a spot in Sunday’s final duet with Berger .

The Honda is Lowry’s first PGA Tour event of the year and his fourth of the 2021-22 season. He enters the tournament having played three tournaments in the Middle East.

“I was in the final group with a chance to win in Abu Dhabi, and I’ve been playing okay the next two weeks and I feel like my game is in good shape,” Lowry said, “and I ‘m looking forward to the challenge of going out and trying to win a PGA Tour event tomorrow.

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Martin Contini of Argentina made his first PGA Tour event memorable on Saturday when he entered the stands along the par-5 18th hole to collect his second errant shot.

Contini, a Korn Ferry Tour member who was one of three open qualifiers for the Honda, hit a 3-wood from the rough, 251 yards from the hole, that flew left into the stands.

“It felt like a really hard, delicate blow,” he said. “I knew something like this could happen, so it was no surprise.”

What was surprising was when Contini climbed into the stands to retrieve his golf ball from under a spectator’s foot. He got a free drop in the rough, 49 yards from the hole. He hit his third shot on the green and hit two putts for par and an even par 70 for the round that propelled him into a tie for seventh at 2 under par 208.

“Yeah, that was wild,” Contini said. “It was crazy, it was funny. It turned out perfect.

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