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Door opens for Lowry as Zanotti takes spoils

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Shane Lowry's closing 67 secured him a place at next month's Open. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Shane Lowry's closing 67 secured him a place at next month's Open. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Shane Lowry's closing 67 secured him a place at next month's Open. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Shane Lowry secured his ticket to the British Open as a satisfying final round 67 and a share of 12th at the BMW International behind winner Fabrizio Zanotti propelled the Clara man up to 18th in the Race to Dubai.

History's never easily made, but Zanotti (31) achieved Paraguay's first victory on the European Tour the hard way as he saw off Gregory Bourdy, then Rafael Cabrera-Bello and, finally, world No 2 Henrik Stenson over five gripping tie-holes.

Zanotti secured his place in the sudden-death showdown with brilliant, bogey-free, back-to-back rounds of 65 over the weekend.

Spaniard Cabrera-Bello finished his final round 67 spectacularly, shooting birdie-eagle-birdie to claim a share of the lead on 19-under, while Stenson racked-up an eagle and four birdies in the final eight holes of his 67 and Havret of France loped into extra-time with a closing 66.

Havret was eliminated on the second play-off hole, despite making par out of the left rough on 18.

All three survivors drove the green and made birdie at the 275 yards 17th, before Cabrera-Bello fell by the wayside on the fourth extra hole, the 18th, when his second from the right fringe rough found water.

After hitting his three-wood brilliantly off the tee throughout the play-off, Stenson fell just short in his bid to make the green at 17.

His ball rolled back into the lake and, after a penalty drop, the popular player thinned his next off the upslope into a back trap, then hit his fourth more than 10 feet past.

Stenson then extended his hand to Zanotti, who'd chipped to five feet after hitting his tee shot into the fairway short and left of the green.

Considering the Swede's historic FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai double last year as he won a whopping $19.4m, including bonuses, on the world's fairways, yesterday's win was a remarkable giant-killing feat by Zanotti, who had to win his card at Q-School after finishing 140th on the European money list in 2013.

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While Zanotti was doused with champagne by delighted fellow South Americans, Lowry earned the right to raise a celebratory glass after earning the right to tee it up in the season's third Major Championship at Hoylake in three weeks time.

EXEMPTIONS

The 27-year-old Irishman was one of four who secured Open Championship exemptions by copper-fastening their place in the top-20 of the European Order of Merit by yesterday's cut-off.

This spares Lowry a trip to final qualifying at Woburn tomorrow.

The disappointment of missing the cut at the recent US and Irish Opens were quickly dispelled by the Co Offaly ace as he posted three rounds in the 60s, plus a 70 on Saturday he amusingly described as being "part Ben Hogan and part Hulk Hogan" to finish on 16-under.

The €27,960 he banked in a 10-way tie for 10th with, among others, Sergio Gacia, boosted Lowry's earnings this year to €606,372, the lion's share of which was won during his confidence boosting runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy in the showpiece BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Up two places from 20th on the Race to Dubai points list, Lowry took the second Open qualifying spot awarded yesterday.

The first was claimed by the man in 17th, Pablo Larrazabal, the 54-hole leader in Germany, who fell back into a tie for eight on 17-under after a final round 72.

The other two berth went to South African George Coetzee and Larrazabal's fellow Spaniard Cabrera-Bello.

"I'm delighted to have secured my spot at the Open today. It was tight, but I'm glad to say I'm going to Royal Liverpool," tweeted Lowry, who will make his third appearance at golf's oldest and greatest Major in Hoylake and also looks forward to August's US PGA at Valhalla.

Michael Hoey earned €21,100 in a share of 22nd place on 15-under after landing four birdies in the last six holes of yesterday's 67.

Damien McGrane picked-up €5,900 in a tie for 57th after a final round 70 which featured an eagle three at 13, his fourth hole.

Patrick Reed (23), led Korea's Seung-Yul Noh, Freddie Jacobson of Sweden and Aussie Marc Leishman by two on six-under entering yesterday's final round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional, giving the outspoken Texan high hopes of a fourth US Tour victory in less than 11 months.

Tournament host Tiger Woods, who returned fit, but rusty after back surgery on March 31, had plenty of time to prepare his speech for the presentation ceremony after missing Friday's cut.


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