Oakmont, Pa. – The USGA’s decision to penalize Dustin Johnson when a ball moved in his proximity Sunday wound up not hurting Johnson, and it might have helped Shane Lowry.
If the USGA hadn’t commanded so much unwanted attention, the 2016 U.S. Open could have been remembered for Lowry’s final-round collapse.
Instead, it became the day Johnson overcame a difficult course and an unpopular ruling.
Lowry made two birdies to reach 7 under par on Sunday morning while finishing his rain-delayed third round, giving him a four-shot lead entering the final round.
He shot a 76 to fall into a three-way tie for second, three shots behind Johnson. That was the highest final-round score among the top 14 finishers.
“That actually didn’t affect me at all,” Lowry said about the ruling. “I just kind of, you know, I really feel like I let it go today, and it’s a great disappointment.
“The more I think about it, the more upset I’m getting. It’s one of those that’s going to be hard to take. It’s going to be a tough few days. I led by four shots in the tournament going into the final round. I had a lead with five holes to play.
“I’m definitely good enough to win one of these. So I’ll get back on the horse in a couple of weeks.”
He won’t, however, take time off from golf. A native of Ireland, the 29-year-old planned to play in an event in Dublin on Monday.
Lowry made a bogey on the short par-4 second hole, and shot a 38 on each nine. He played the last six holes in 2 over par.
“Second position, I’m not happy,” he said. “But there’s lots of positives to take from this week. It’s the toughest test of golf, and this is a true test of golf, and I was right up there for 67 holes. The whole round, really. So, that’s golf. You win some and lose some.”
Among the leaders, Jim Furyk, whose only major title came in the 2003 U.S. Open, made the biggest move up the scoreboard, firing a 66 to tie with Lowry and Scott Piercy for second. Furyk made five birdies and one bogey, but the bogey came on the 18th hole.