The stakes were high on Sunday evening at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.
Approaching the 16th hole in the final round of the PGA Championship, Shane Lowry was -10 under and inside the top six at 2018’s final major.
On the par three, his approach ended up near a TV tower which blocked a clear path to the green. Seeking relief (wherein he could drop the ball elsewhere and play the shot unimpeded) from a rules official and the group’s referee, Lowry and his playing partner Justin Thomas had to wait almost ten minutes, before the Irishman decided to play from the original lie anyway.
He went on to make bogey.
“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 said via the Irish Times.
“If you put John Paramor [head European Tour rules official] 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.
“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 Thomas’ comments in the same piece indicate that he had no problem with Lowry seeking a ruling, though the prolonged wait did test his patience on the 16th green; looking like a ‘cat on a hot-tin roof’, per one commentator. That impression also led to some American-based abuse for Lowry on social media.
I know like he doesn't have his own stuff going on.Dreadful commentary.
— Gary murphy (@Garymurphy62) August 12, 2018
Lowry explained the delay, and fearing that it was becoming an all-round farce, just decided to play.
“The camera tower was the issue. I took my drop there was another camera tower in my way, straight away I felt I should get dropped on other side and they were getting me to drop it in the middle of the tree. I can’t, so where do I drop it?
“He wouldn’t make a decision. I said, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to play’. I didn’t want to wait around any longer. It happened. It is not the end of the world.”
Another bogey on 17 would drop him back to -8, as the Offaly man finished tied for 12th.
A big week awaits, as Lowry requires a high finish at the Wyndham Championship, which is his last chance to get into the top 125 of the FedEx Cup rankings and retain his PGA Tour card. He is currently 139th, moving up 17 places after his fine showing last week.