Shane Lowry, in the immediate aftermath of his memorable victory over Rory McIlroy, cautioned that he was not of a mind to start any celebrations just yet.
Lowry's shock win over the world No1 arrived at such a late hour at his home in Ireland that it was probably not given the wider recognition it was due in any case.
However, Lowry proved there was substance to his words and that he may still have cause to party by returning to Dove Mountain to dismiss Carl Pettersson in the second round on Friday. Hands were shaken on the 13th green as Lowry cantered to a 6&5 win.
"I found it quite hard to sleep on Thursday night, I was on such a high," Lowry said. "There were lots of phone calls and texts and stuff, congratulating me. But I managed to get to sleep and get a few hours. I got up, spoke to my coach for quite a while on the phone and just reminded myself that it was only the first round. I would have been all right to beat Rory but to lose in the second round is not what I wanted coming here this week. I wanted to go on." I feel like I could potentially do very well in this tournament."
Lowry has served quite enough notice to his next opponent that there is no chance of him being taken lightly, despite the 25-year-old being the lowest ranked player here. Having won the Irish Open as an amateur, Lowry has already proved himself fearless and unconcerned by reputation. The context of his second-round victory was even more impressive when taken against the performance of Charles Howell III. The day after Howell secured a famous win of his own, over Tiger Woods, he was comprehensively beaten by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Lowry's retention of focus was admirable, as demonstrated by a front nine of 33 which left Pettersson with an insurmountable task. For now, Ireland has a headline-making golfer other than McIlroy. "It has been quite exciting for everyone back home," Lowry added. "I come from a very small town and everyone is really behind me. It's nice to have such support from people back home."
Ian Poulter's strong Tucson challenge gathered further momentum courtesy of a 3&1 success over Bo Van Pelt. Poulter moved three up on his American opponent inside 10 holes, a position he was never likely to surrender, given his matchplay qualities. "I played the type of golf that's going to be tough to beat," Poulter said. "I had seven birdies, no bogeys and, when you play like that, you don't give your opponent anything, then obviously it's going to be a tough day for him. So I'm very pleased. I think I'm probably more prepared than I've ever been. The work I've done in the off season; the equipment change, changing new shafts in all my irons, knocking a five-wood out of the bag and putting in an extra wedge in the gap that I had, picking up four miles an hour of ball speed on the driver, I couldn't be any happier coming into this week."
Unsurprisingly Poulter is now among the favourites to win this championship on Sunday afternoon. "Obviously my record in matchplay is pretty good," he said. "You come here knowing that, if you play six great matches, you're going to be in a really good position. It's an opportunity, certainly the way the draw is done, where if you get through a good chunk of matches, then it potentially could be slightly easier to win a matchplay event than what it might be a strokeplay one."
The challenge of Justin Rose was ended by the big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts. Rose's day had started well – he won the opening hole – but he ultimately slumped to a 4&2 defeat. Colsaerts' distance is of obvious benefit on what has become a softer course because of Wednesday's snow storm.
"There are a couple of corners, a couple of carries I can take on," Colsaerts said. "If they work out, I have much shorter irons into the greens than some of the other guys. You keep memories about good matchplay confrontations. The Ryder Cup last year certainly helped me, being successful in this format."
Sergio García, who had bemoaned his poor form all week, rather proved his own point as he exited at the hands of Matt Kuchar. There was a rare, heavy defeat for Luke Donald as Scott Piercy thrashed the Englishman 7&6. Piercy's day was summed up by his holing out with a four-iron from 228yds on the 5th. "Losing sucks and it is very disappointing," Donald said. "I would have liked to have given him a bit of a better match."
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