Sport Golf

Saturday 16 December 2017

Lowry proves pedigree as 'dream comes true'

Shane Lowry holds his trophy after winning the Portugal Masters 2012 golf tournament at the Victoria golf course in Vilamoura, southern Portugal. Photo: AP
Shane Lowry holds his trophy after winning the Portugal Masters 2012 golf tournament at the Victoria golf course in Vilamoura, southern Portugal. Photo: AP
Shane Lowry shows the trophy to fans after winning the Portugal Masters at the Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura
Shane Lowry, from Ireland, plays a shot from a bunker of the 6th hole during the second round of the Portugal Masters golf tournament. Photo: AP
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

SHANE Lowry's day of vindication is just the tonic for his bid to gain playing rights on the US Tour.

The 25-year-old carved his name in the history books in Portugal by becoming only the second player to win on the European Tour as an amateur and a professional.

He also put an end to the speculation by those who doubted if he had what it takes to be a winner as a pro.

Lowry believed in himself and his ability, as did his coach Neil Manchip, who is the GUI national coach, but until the Clara man could nail a professional victory, the Twitterati would have their say.

Any criticism of Lowry was unfair. It was an outstanding achievement to win the Irish Open as an amateur at Baltray in 2009 and while he couldn't accept the €500,000 first prize, the win jump-started his professional career with an exemption on Tour until the end of 2011.

By winning the Portugal Masters by a stroke from England's Ross Fisher, who succeeded Lowry as winner of the Irish Open in 2010, Lowry has once again ensured himself of a two-year exemption -- and this time he takes home a cheque for €375,000.

Bogeying

Now Lowry can try to break into the American scene via their qualifying school with his mind at rest, and his confidence at an all-time high.

He also joins Spaniard Pablo Martin, who won the 2007 Portuguese Open in his amateur days and then the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa two years later, in the record books.

Shot of the day from Rory McIlroy's stablemate was a seven-iron into the hole for an eagle two at the 11th.

Lowry was one ahead after adding birdies at the 15th and 17th, but prepared himself for a play-off after driving into sand and bogeying the last for a 66 and 14-under-par total.

Former Ryder Cup star Fisher was in the group behind and from the fringe of the green left his long birdie attempt -- a putt to win the title -- five feet short and then lipped out.

"I cannot believe this," he said, after coming from four behind Austrian Bernd Wiesberger in the final round," Lowry said.

"I can't explain how I feel really. It's a dream come true -- I'm over the moon.

"Everyone was referring to me as the fella who won the Irish Open as an amateur, but now I've won such a prestigious event I don't know what to say."

Nothing might match the atmosphere in torrential rain on the day he triumphed at County Louth, but he still had plenty of vocal support at Oceanico Victoria.

"It was like playing in Ireland," he said. "It was crazy. It was great."

Lowry was still three behind at the turn but birdied the 10th and then saw his approach to the next land a foot short of the flag and hop in.

"I thought then this could be my day and thankfully it is," he said.

"We had a long wait on the 12th tee, which was good, I had time to compose myself."

He went ahead for the first time when Wiesberger drove into the lake and dropped a shot on the 11th, but Fisher then produced three birdies in a row to take over at the top.

The 31-year-old was chasing his first success for more than two years but bogeyed the short 16th to fall behind again and could not get back on terms.

Wiesberger found more water on the long 17th and by bogeying the last hole as well, he allowed Michael Campbell to take third place on his own.

This was the New Zealander's best finish for four years and the last time he had four rounds in the 60s was nine years ago.

Fisher finished runner-up just as he did behind Lee Westwood in Sweden in June.

Irish Independent

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