Wednesday 21 February 2018

Lowry enjoys €612k payday as Rahm takes Dubai spoils

Shane Lowry reacts to his third shot on the 18th hole yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Lowry reacts to his third shot on the 18th hole yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

Shane Lowry finished like a Ferrari as the Race to Dubai turned into the demolition derby and Tommy Fleetwood held off a spluttering Justin Rose to become European No 1.

A closing nine-under 63 by the Offaly man earned him a tie for second in the DP World Tour Championship worth €612,355, a morale-boosting leap to 58th in the world, a place in The Open and a fistful of Ryder Cup points.

Jon Rahm with the DP World Tour Championship trophy. Photo: Getty Images
Jon Rahm with the DP World Tour Championship trophy. Photo: Getty Images

Spain's Jon Rahm took advantage of a back-nine speed-wobble from Rose as well as late bogeys by fourth-placed Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli and Sergio Garcia to add the DP World Tour Championship to his European Tour Rookie of the Year gong.

As Paul Dunne spun off in the first corner - his hopes of getting off to a fast start smashed by a double-bogey seven at the second - and shot 75 to putter home tied for 25th, Lowry stamped on the gas and surged into the clubhouse lead with a 10-birdie 63.

He was joined on 18-under-par by Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat before Rahm overhauled them by finishing with a par for a 67 and a one-shot win on 19-under par.

Rose shot a faultless four-under 32 on the front nine but faltered down the stretch with bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 16th proving expensive.

With Fleetwood sharing 21st on 11-under after a 74, Rose needed an eagle at the 18th to claim the money title but failed with a 100-foot putt from just off the front edge, eventually finishing two behind Rahm in tied fourth.

Lowry was happy to bring his European Tour campaign to a close with his sixth top 12 finish from his last nine events - a run he has played in 83-under par, averaging 68.67 per round.

"I didn't know I was going to shoot the best score of the season on my last day of the season," said Lowry, who overtakes Dunne as the leading Irishman in the world rankings after turning an average season into a good one with his best finish of the year.

"At least it gives me something to smile about going into my Christmas break."

Both Irishmen will be inside the top eight automatic qualifiers - Dunne at fifth and Lowry eighth - when the Ryder Cup standings are updated today.

"I'm happy with my results, a few World Ranking points and a few valuable Ryder Cup points, as well," Lowry said after taking advantage of a generous Sunday set-up.

Payback

"A couple of my friends texted me before today and were saying I was due a good Sunday. There it is." Speaking to Meridian Media, he added: "These last two months of golf have been quite enjoyable for me. I have given myself a couple of chances to do really well, I've had a couple of bad Sundays as well, but this is like payback for any bad scores on a Sunday.

"I have had a lot of good finishes over the last while, and I am very happy going into my off-season."

It's been a sensational season for Dunne, who finished 16th in the Race to Dubai with €1,695,041 and, like Lowry, clinched a place in The Open at Carnoustie next year for finishing in the top 30 as well as starts in all the World Golf Championships for being in the top 20.

"A good year but a terrible day," Dunne tweeted before heading off to finish his year in this week's UBS Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 season. "Delighted for @TommyFleetwood1 winning race to Dubai and thrilled for @ShaneLowryGolf #63"

Fleetwood (26) was thrilled to become European number one after being pushed all the way by Rose, who won the Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank Golf Challenge to close his once-huge lead to just €256,737 heading into the final event

Rose pointed to his bogey at the 12th as the big momentum-killer but refused to beat himself up and paid tribute to Fleetwood. "He fought hard for it, he's earned it and he's had a great year," Rose said.

"It is not about a week or nine holes, it is about how you play over a year and he deserves it."

As for Rahm, the Irish Open champion is up to fourth in the world from 137th at the start of the year having won the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour and two of the eight Rolex Series events.

"It's a very special feeling," said the 23-year-old, who has exceeded his expectations with three wins and 13 top-five finishes from just 36 professional starts. It's like when you have an errands list and you finish two hours before. It's a very similar feeling. It's very, very special."

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington finished tied 54th after a final round four-under 66 at the RSM Classic in Georgia - 17 shots behind American winner Austin Cook. Graeme McDowell and Seamus Power missed the cut.

Irish Independent

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