Shane Lowry ties major-championship scoring record with 62 and makes biggest move on Moving Day at 2024 PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Shane Lowry couldn’t get the honor.

He’d made birdie on four of the first five holes and yet his fellow playing competitor, Justin Rose, had matched him stroke for stroke. Walking off the fifth green, Lowry turned to Rose and said, “What am I going to have to do to get the honor off you today?”

It took a birdie at No. 9, his sixth of the day, to do so and spurred him to a record-tying Saturday at Valhalla Golf Club. Lowry birdied half his holes, making a career-best 161 feet, two inches of putts, and tied a record with the fifth 62 in major championship history. The 37-year-old Irishman narrowly missed an 11-foot birdie putt at 18, the easiest hole on course, to be the first to shoot 61.

“Probably the most disappointed anyone can ever be shooting 62,” he said. “I knew what was at stake.”

Lowry was part of the winning team at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans three weeks ago with Rory McIlroy, but conceded that McIlroy did the heavy-lifting. All year, Lowry has been striking the ball as well as ever but his putter has betrayed him. Finally, he became so fed up he switched to a TaylorMade Spider Tour Z putter in New Orleans, went back to some old putting drills and tried to putt more instinctively.

“I’ve sort of felt all season that if I could warm my putter up that I could be dangerous,” he said.

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During the first two rounds of the PGA Championship, Lowry’s putter carried him into the weekend at 4-under 138, while he termed his tee-to-green game “probably the worst I’ve played in a long time.” So, on Friday afternoon, he headed to the range with his coach and sorted out his swing. It was simply an alignment issue.

“I was set up too far left and all sorts of bad things happen for me when I do that,” he explained.

Eight strokes behind 36-hole leader Xander Schauffele, Lowry figured getting into double digits and shooting 65 would be a good target score. He did even better than that. Four birdies in a row starting at the second, including a 20-footer at the fourth, lifted his confidence as he and Rose fed off each other.

“There was definitely that urgency to feel like you wanted to stay on track and keep up the momentum today to try to give yourself a shot going into tomorrow,” he said. “It was the classic moving day, and job well done.”

Soft greens and a warm, sun-soaked day made for ideal scoring conditions. “Gettable,” is how Lowry described the course and he and Rose were getting after it. Rose, who played with Rickie Fowler when he shot the second 62 in major championship history during the first round of the 2023 U.S. Open, noted that after the hot start through seven holes, he had “a weird feeling” he was going to shoot 61. “Kind of felt like it was on, and then I’m still super frustrated by going 5-5 at 9 and 10. Kind of felt like I lost my momentum there a little bit.”

Rose settled for 64.

Shane Lowry is congratulated by Justin Rose after hitting a 62 during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Out in 29 after the birdie at nine and Lowry already began thinking that he had a special round of his own  in the making. But he poured in a 37-foot downhill birdie at No. 13, punching his right arm to the sky. When shown the replay during a post-round interview, he said, “I kept rolling them in…It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.” Next, they flashed his 32-foot birdie at No. 14, where he clenched his right fist in celebration. “I did make a lot of putts, didn’t I,” he said.

And that’s when he started thinking about making history.

“Here we go,” he said he thought to himself. “It was in my mind from about 14 onwards.”

In Lowry’s gallery was his father, Brendan, clad in a green Augusta National member logo shirt, his manager, and several friends, including Brendan and Deirdre Donovan, who follow Lowry at all the majors and always can be found wearing the County Clare football jersey of Lowry’s hometown. Deirdre grew up there as well before marrying Brendan, who went to high school with PGA president John Lindert.

“It’s a small town. We all know everybody because we all go to church together,” Deirdre said.

They were there at Royal Portrush when Lowry shot 63, his previous low score in a major, in the third round of the 2019 British Open to take the 54-hole lead. This time, Lowry cooled off momentarily with pars at the difficult 15th and 16th, leaving a 30-foot birdie putt uncharacteristically short. But one hole later, he planted a short iron six feet from the hole and sank it for his ninth birdie.

At the par-5 18th, he pushed his drive into the right rough. He said he had 170 yards to clear the water if he went for the green from 240 yards. Decision time.

“The ball was kind of sitting up in the rough,” he explained. “I probably could have done it, but it felt like it was maybe a silly decision to go for it under the circumstances. I knew if I made five that I’m still in the tournament. If I made six, I’d be livid with myself. I felt like it was probably a bit too risky to take on.”

Lowry wedged to 11 feet. Of the putt, he said he wanted to make it “probably too much.” But he did take a moment to stand back and soak it all in.

“It was a pretty cool moment to have,” he said. “It would have been a pretty cool moment to kind of seal the deal and do it.”

He started the putt a little too much left and it never really had a chance. He settled for the second 62 of the week — Xander Schauffele shot the course record on Thursday — and a piece of major championship history. But just as importantly, he lifted himself into the thick of the trophy hunt at the 106th PGA Championship and a chance to claim a second major title.

“I knew even if I didn’t do it that I done what I needed to do today, and I’m pretty happy with that,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this round.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek