Date: July 18, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes @ St Andrews

Contending Bowdo wins Lotto

One moment Steve Bowditch was headless, the next he’d “won lotto”.

He’d fought so hard and skilfully for so long that Bowditch deserved a break, especially when he had been trying caution on arguably the world’s toughest green.

But when his ball moved on the 17th green after he’d addressed his bogey putt, the big Queenslander reeled away in disbelief.

With putter now strewn on the green in the next sign of anguish, Bowditch motioned to the rules official in keeping with the honour of the game and confessing what he thought to be his sin.

But just when a second consecutive Open round threatened to come unglued in sight of the clubhouse, Bowditch finally had a stroke of luck.

He’d forgotten the rule change introduced in 2012 that doesn’t penalise a player in exactly that situation.

So when playing partner Ben Martin and the rules official shared the good news, the relief was palpable.

“I went from making a pretty soft five to a really mad six to a felt-like-a-birdie five again,” Bowditch could joke after a closing birdie gave him a three-under-par 69.

“I felt like I just won the lotto when he said no penalty.”

Bowditch’s quirky bogey was one of just two in an otherwise quality round that had him perched just inside the top 10 when he punched out.

That it came after a cracking drive and then conservative approach to the front of the brutal Road Hole green wasn’t ideal, but at least showed how well he’d concentrated.

Especially after “giving away” two shots on the 18th in round one after a “brain explosion”.

A day later, the effort of putting himself in contention sat very well in just his fourth major championship.

“I walk off here a lot more pleased. I worked so hard yesterday, and then to give it up on not so much 17, but to make a really soft bogey on 18,” he said.

“But today I felt like it was pretty much in cruise control most of the day. I was hitting it where I was looking.”

And that’s an understatement.

Bowditch had no luck early, hitting booming drives into divots on both the second and third holes, forcing errant pitches.

He then was forced to take a penalty drop from an unplayable lie in gorse left of the ninth fairway and watched in disbelief as another bomb down the 10th rolled back from the green’s fringe and into a tricky position he didn’t deserve.

His subsequent putt from the dodgy stance threatened to steam past the hole until it bumped into the ball of playing partner Hiroshi Iwata and stopped within 4m of the flag.

From there, had he had any luck with the putter, Bowditch could have shot the lights out.

That birdie on 10 was followed by two more on 12 and 13 and then a kick-in on 18 to prove to all and sundry that the man who has long carried the potential tag is now living out his talents.

“I'd just made a pretty good bogey on nine, and that ball rolling back and then on the downslope in the wet, to make birdie, to make that 10 footer I thought was a pretty big momentum swing for me right there.

“I feel like I got pretty good distance control with conditions. I don't feel like I've made a putt yet. I feel like I've just sort of — not plodded it around — but hit it in the spots I've needed to hit it most of the time with my iron play.”

So the solution for a good Queensland lad to any nerves before his first weekend in major contention?

“Maybe a pint or two this afternoon and put the feet up."