There was a certain “turn back the clock” feel to this past weekend’s PGA Championship. Aside from Tiger Woods making another meaningful charge in a major championship, the likes of Adam Scott, Stewart Cink and Shane Lowry clustered towards the top of the leaderboard.
While Scott and Cink had solid Sundays to notch top-5 finishes, a final-round 70 saw the Irishman tumble six spots down the leaderboard to a still-respectable tie for 12th place. His day, however, will not be remembered for the best finish of his PGA season to date; instead, a rules controversy that Lowry was outspoken about on after the fact.
Playing the par-3 16th hole and sitting at 10-under par — a mark which would have resulted in a T6 — Lowry pulled his tee shot next to a television tower and wanted relief from the impediment, but he was less-than-thrilled with the rules officials who waffled on a decision.
Speaking to The Irish Times’ Philip Reid, Lowry explained his feelings.
“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. “If you put (European Tour rules 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 (Thomas’) way, he ended up making bogey as well.
“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? They’re saying drop it here, I have a club length (to drop the ball) and it is still my way. He wouldn’t make a decision. The other referee said, ‘it is your decision’. I said, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to play’. I didn’t want to wait around any longer. It happened.”
For Thomas’ part, despite the broadcast’s assertion that the lengthy ruling had an effect on the defending champion, he said that there was no ill will towards Lowry for the delay.
“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.’
“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. 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.”
Thomas and Lowry both made bogeys, but Thomas was able to play the final two holes in even par whereas Lowry made a bogey on the par-5 17th to drop two shots over the final three holes.