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Shane Lowry shoots record-tying 62 to get in contention at PGA Championship

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Shane Lowry carded 62 in the third round of the PGA Championship, tying to record for lowest round in a major championship. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

Shane Lowry carded 62 in the third round of the PGA Championship, tying to record for lowest round in a major championship. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    Shane Lowry admits that the good vibes from his win with Rory McIlroy at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans did not last long. That’s what happens when you shoot 7 over par in your next start.

    “If you had seen me last week, I wasn't smiling on the golf course,” Lowry said about his T47 finish among the 69 players at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. “It's quite hollow when you don't get on very well.”

    Things didn’t start much better when Lowry arrived at Valhalla Golf Club. He said his ballstriking this year has been as good as ever, but he needed to rely on his chipping and putting to make the cut. A small tweak Friday evening made all the difference, however. Lowry realized in a post-round range session that his alignment was off. That change set the stage for another thrilling third round from Lowry in a major.

    Feeling more comfortable over the ball, Lowry flirted with history on Saturday at the PGA Championship. He now has the opportunity to win his second major after shooting the fifth 62 in men’s major history, and the second this week. After starting Saturday in 29th place, eight shots off the lead, Lowry is now just two back of leaders Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.

    “I feel like tee-to-green, I've been as good as I've ever been this year, and then I come out the first two days, it was probably the worst I've played in a long time, but my putter kept me going and kept me in the tournament,” Lowry said. “Then I went to the range with my coach yesterday afternoon and … it was just an alignment issue. I was set up too far left and all sorts of bad things happen for me when I do that. Fixed that, and went out there today, played with a little bit of freedom, and managed to do that score. I've sort of felt all season that if I could warm my putter up that I could be dangerous.”

    The putter complied. Lowry made a career-high 161 feet of putts Saturday. He also leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, gaining approximately 11 strokes over the first three rounds at Valhalla. More than half of those came Saturday.

    This PGA Championship is now the second major in less than a year to have multiple 62s. Xander Schauffele shot 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at Valhalla.

    Rickie Fowler and Schauffele shot 62s in the first round of the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, as well, and Branden Grace set the record in the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

    Lowry had a good chance to break that record, missing a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

    Shane Lowry just misses his putt on 18 to shoot 61, the lowest score in major championship history. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

    Shane Lowry just misses his putt on 18 to shoot 61, the lowest score in major championship history. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

    No player who has shot 62 in a major has gone on to win, but both Schauffele and Lowry will have a chance Sunday. Lowry is seeking his second major championship, as well. He shot 63 in the third round of his victory at Royal Portrush, sending Irish fans rushing around the grounds and celebrating as if he’d already won the Claret Jug. That was his low round in a major until Saturday, and The Open was his most recent PGA TOUR win until the Zurich.

    “I went out with a job to do today, to get myself back in the tournament,” he said Saturday. “And I did that.”

    Lowry made par on his first hole Saturday before rolling off four consecutive birdies at Nos. 2-5. He also birdied Nos. 7 and 9 to become the first player to break 30 on either nine in a PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. This is the fourth PGA played at the Louisville club.

    Lowry’s first three birdies came on putts outside 10 feet. He two-putted the par-5 seventh hole from 61 feet for his fifth birdie of the day, then capped the front nine by holing a 17-footer for birdie. His next two birdies came on putts from outside 30 feet, a 37-footer on 13 and a 33-footer on the next hole.

    Those back-to-back birdies got him to 8 under par for the day and put history within reach. Two birdies over the final four holes would have given him the lowest round in major championship history.

    Lowry made par on his next two holes before holing a 6-foot birdie putt at the 17th. He had to lay up on the par-5 18th after driving into the right rough but wedged within 12 feet of the hole, setting up an opportunity for history. It was one of the few putts Lowry missed Saturday.

    “I knew what was at stake,” Lowry said. “Just didn't hit the ball hard enough.”

    He holed four putts from 10-20 feet and two putts from outside 25 feet. He didn’t miss any of the 12 putts he faced from inside 10 feet, either.

    “I holed a lot of footage (of putts) today,” Lowry said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, so I’m not going to apologize.”

    A recent putter change – to a model similar to that of McIlroy’s – also has benefitted Lowry. He switched to a TaylorMade Spider Tour Z mallet putter before New Orleans (McIlroy uses the Tour X).

    "It was nice to do that," Lowry said about winning the Zurich. "But then you go on to the next week, and it doesn't make a difference what you've done last week. I think that's the great thing about this game. It doesn't matter what you've done last week, you've still got next week and the week after."

    After a record-tying round, this week presents an opportunity for Lowry to win his second major.

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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