SHANE LOWRY dropped €25,000 on his final two holes at the Sicilian Open -- not exactly the way he would have chosen to mark his 25th birthday today.
A couple of bogeys on the testing final two holes at the Verdura Resort saw Clara's former Irish Open champion slip into a share of sixth place on 10-under par, five behind immensely impressive first-time winner Thorbjorn Olesen (22) of Denmark.
Lowry earned €30,000 for his efforts instead of the €55,000 he would have been due in a tie for third had he managed to play 17 and 18 in par.
Mind you, Tour professionals don't dwell on such matters. Once he had shaken off his initial frustration, Lowry made it plain on Twitter last night that he was ready to get his 25th birthday party started.
Indeed, having joined the tournament lead courtesy of his seventh birdie of the day on 13, Lowry was annoyed more at his failure to take advantage of two decent birdie chances at 14 and 15 than those two closing bogeys.
"Not getting up and down on 14 killed me, as did missing the putt on 15," he sighed. "If I'd birdied those two holes and got to 14-under, I would have had a great chance. But it wasn't to be.
"It was a disappointing finish, but I can't really complain with a 67 and I feel like I'm getting myself into contention most weeks now.
"Unfortunately, one bad swing at the last has cost me. I cut my drive into the hazard but hit a nice five-wood into the green, so it could have been worse. And top 10 is not that bad," added Lowry. He took five at 17 after hitting his approach miles into the cabbage to the back left of the green.
Olesen, who is Denmark's eighth winner on the European Tour, wrapped up a one-stroke victory over England's Chris Wood with a rock-steady final- round 69 which suggested he'll some day rival fellow countryman Thomas Bjorn's haul of 13 titles.
"It feels amazing. I had three seconds last year, so to finally get my first win is great," the Dane said. "I've been playing some great golf this year, without all parts of my game coming together. But this week my long and short game both came together, and it feels fantastic to finally get over the line.
"I saw he (Wood) was doing well when I arrived at the ninth, so I knew I had to go for it and make birdies, so it kind of made up my mind for me that I had to play attacking golf."
"I was definitely a bit nervous. I was just trying to focus on one shot at a time, but that's very difficult to do because your mind keeps thinking of other things. But I'm really happy to finish with a par on 18, because it's a really tough golf hole. So when I found the green with my second shot, I was very happy."
Wood (24) really threw down the gauntlet to Olesen yesterday by playing his first five holes in five-under, including an eagle three at four.
Nine-under through 14 and, at that point, in the tournament lead on 14-under, the Bristol native's hopes of clinching his maiden win on Tour were scotched by a bogey at 17.
However, Wood still managed to equal the course-record 64 set by Peter Lawrie in last Thursday's first round.
Dubliner Lawrie had a disappointing final day, slipping back to a share of 19th place (worth €11,188) on seven-under after a closing 73.
Once again, Gareth Maybin's putting let him down. Though Maybin played nicely, hitting 17 greens in regulation, any hope of advancing beyond a tie for 11th (worth €15,275) on eight-under were scuppered by the 33 putts taken by the Ballyclare ace.