Shane Lowry had a solid run at this year’s PGA Championship, his eight-under score good enough for a T-12 finish. Unfortunately, it’s a standing that could have been better had Lowry received, in his estimation, a better ruling at Bellerive’s 16th hole on Sunday.
Lowry was 10-under, in line for a top-five finish, when he came to the 226-metre par 3. The Irishman sent his shot right of the green, the ball coming to rest behind a TV tower. Somewhat surprisingly, rules officials could not decide what drop, if any, Lowry was entitled to, and Lowry ultimately decided to play his shot from the original position. He had to punch into further rough, leading to a bogey on the hole, and followed with a bogey on the relatively-easy par-5 17th.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Lowry aired his feelings on the situation.
“I think the referee didn’t have the balls to make a decision there and, if he did, I would have had an easier shot,” Lowry told the Times. “If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn’t giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in the tree basically.
“I ended up making a good four; if I’d made double I wouldn’t have been too happy with him. It is what it is. It took so long I felt I was getting in Justin’s way, he ended up making bogey as well.”
“Justin” being Justin Thomas, who was still contending for the championship at the time. Thomas played out of turn, and some construed it as a sign of Thomas’ displeasure with Lowry. However, Thomas quickly squelched any rumours of the kind.
“It had nothing to do with Shane,” Thomas said. “The rules officials were having a hard time coming up with a ruling. They were kind of looking at each other and saying, well, what do we do and Shane’s like, look, just tell me if I get a drop or not. And I’m a quick player and that’s why I went. I didn’t have the best of lies so I think the less I thought about it, the better. But, yeah, it was just one of those things, he wanted to make sure he got the right ruling because he was still in a position to finish really high in this tournament.”
The ruling could effect Lowry’s US PGA Tour status for 2019. Lowry’s currently 139th in the FedEx Cup, and with Lowry’s exemption from the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational over, he’ll need a strong showing at the Wyndham Championship to retain his tour card.