Shane Lowry ended his three-year wait for a win with a dramatic victory at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.
The Irishman pipped close friend Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm by a single stroke at Wentworth to claim his first title since The Open Championship in July 2019.
His sixth win on the DP World Tour, the 35-year-old carded a bogey-less 17-under across the adjusted 54-hole championship, cut from the conventional 72-hole format after Friday’s second round was canceled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
After shooting a six-under 66 and 68 through the opening two rounds, Lowry arrived Sunday two strokes off the lead, but saw his final round roar into life with an eagle at the fourth hole.
A fourth birdie at the 12th saw Lowry draw level with 2021 US Open champion Rahm, who had set the clubhouse target at 16-under after carding a joint-event best 62.
With McIlroy hot on his heels, a steady run of five straight pars left Lowry needing to birdie the final hole to avoid a playoff with Rahm. After having birdied the 18th on the first two rounds, the Irishman made it a hat-trick to move within touching distance of the title.
It left McIlroy requiring an eagle at the par-five final hole to force a playoff, and the Northern Irishman came agonizingly close to pulling off the feat. The newly-crowned PGA Tour Championship winner found the green in two shots, but his 23-foot eagle putt missed by mere inches to confirm Lowry as champion.
“I am so happy,” Lowry told reporters. “It’s so hard to win on this tour, any tour. You have some of the best players in the world trying to chase you down.
“I felt like my game has been good enough all year to win, and I just felt like I haven’t had the breaks that I needed to win tournaments.
“I’m just very thankful and very grateful that I got to win this, and what a tournament to win, as well. Seems like I don’t like to do it small when I do it, so it’s nice to have this on my resumé as well.”
Lowry’s strong year
Lowry has registered four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, including a runner-up finish at the Honda Classic in February, to earn $3,616,679 in prize money.
His triumph Sunday sees him take home €1,351,105.60 ($1,373,533.95), sweetening the joy of ending a frustrating rut.
“I think if I didn’t get over line today, maybe I do go back and start asking questions about what I need to do differently or what needs to change because, yes, my golf is good, but if you’re not knocking off the wins and you’re playing well, you might have to ask questions,” Lowry said.
“You spend your life and your career getting up early every day, working your nuts off to get in these positions and when you get in these positions, it’s quite uncomfortable.
“It’s not the nicest place in the world because you don’t want to mess it up and be sitting in your hotel room having thrown away the tournament and it’s not a nice place to be.”
Following Queen Elizabeth’s death Friday, play resumed following a two-minute silence by players, staff and fans Saturday morning, with Lowry paying tribute to “an incredible woman.”
“I felt like the right thing to do was go ahead and just have a celebration of her life this weekend as opposed to sitting around and moping about it,” he said.
“The whole world is saddened by her loss but great to see the crowds come out yesterday and today. I felt like it was a great way to give a send-off. I know it might not mean much to anyone but I thought that way.”
McIlroy, who had pipped Lowry to the title eight years ago, said he was pleased to see Lowry finally reap the rewards of having consistent form.
“He’s had a lot of close calls here. Finished second to me when I won in 2014 and he’s got me back today,” the 33-year-old told reporters.
“He’s been knocking on the door for a while. He’s played a lot of good golf this year without actually getting over the line.
“So really, really happy for him. We’ve become incredibly close over the last couple of years, and yeah, good to see.”