Sunday 25 September 2016

Alan Lowry follows in big brother Shane's steps

Brian Keogh

Published 04/08/2015 | 02:30

Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) with the 2015 Mullingar Electrical Scratch trophy after his victory at Mullingar Golf Club
(03/08/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman
Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) with the 2015 Mullingar Electrical Scratch trophy after his victory at Mullingar Golf Club (03/08/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman
Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) reacts to his missed birdie putt on the final green in the 2015 Mullingar Electrical Scratch Cup at Mullingar Golf Club ( 03/08/2015). Picture by Pat Cashman
Troy Merritt holds the championship trophy after winning the Quicken Loans National at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club

Seven years after his brother Shane won a birdie-fest in spectacular fashion, Alan Lowry produced a gutsy clutch-putting display to claim the Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy by two strokes.

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Yes, the swing tip he got from the world No 48 on Friday proved crucial - swing it easy always works well when it's breezy.

But it was judging the conditions from the start of the day, making a good game plan and then executing it with nerveless short-range putting over the last seven holes that gave the 22-year-old Esker Hills and Maynooth University talent his first major victory.

Two-under par and five behind Galway's Joe Lyons with two rounds to go, Lowry shot a fine 70 in the morning to grab a share of the lead with Castle's Daniel Holland, who would fade to 14th after a closing 82.

GRASP

He had no real idea where he stood all day, despite playing in the penultimate group. And it was not until he hit a 165-yard nine-iron down breeze to 20 feet at the 18th that he knew for sure that victory was within his grasp.

"I didn't want to know where I stood," Lowry confessed after an afternoon with the blinkers on and his head down. "After I hit my third, I heard someone say, 'That's the winning shot there'.

"I knew if I could two-putt from 20 feet it was probably good enough."

His birdie putt horseshoed out, but a closing 74 for a four-round total of two-under par 286 proved to be good enough for a two-stroke win over Knock's Colin Fairweather, who was tied for the lead with Lowry with four holes to go but bogeyed the 15th, 16th and 17th to go the last needing an albatross for a play-off.

He could only make birdie, adding a 75 to his 74 to finish second on level-par 288, one better than Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan with Dundalk pair Aaron Grant and Caolan Rafferty four shots behind the winner alongside Lyons in a share of fourth.

With a southerly wind gusting up to 35 mph, Lowry's first good move was realising what it might take to win.

"When I first came out this morning, I thought I needed to post some decent number to be there or thereabouts," he said.

"But it was so windy I thought under par for the tournament wouldn't be far away and so I kept grinding, telling myself I wasn't too far away."

Even after he bogeyed the 11th to go three-over for his final round, he knew he was still in with a shout. But it took nerveless putting to get the job done.

After holing from six feet to avoid a three-putt bogey at the 12th, he made downhill five-footers for par at the 13th and 14th, and a four-footer for another par at the 15th before ramming home a 15-footer for a crucial birdie at the par-five 16th to get to two-under.

He was still only tied for the lead with Fairweather but as he made a gutsy par at the 17th - driver, three iron and two putts from 20 feet - the Knock international faded down the stretch and Esker Hills had its second Mullingar winner.

"To be honest, for the whole round today I kept grinding and holing putts for par, taking it shot by shot, not getting ahead of myself," Lowry said.

"I am so happy to come out on top. It means a lot."

Irish Independent

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