Sport Golf

Thursday 18 January 2018

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry on top of their game but Lawrie battles for card

Day with his silverware after winning the BMW Championship at the Conway Farms Golf Club
Day with his silverware after winning the BMW Championship at the Conway Farms Golf Club
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Peter Lawrie - three Irish golfers who emerged from the GUI system and became highly respected professionals in a tough business.

They have plenty in common, not least their background in the amateur ranks and their prowess at this most difficult game.

The glamour and the riches on offer can disguise the bottom line that every week on Tour is a battle for form and performance.

If you don't make cuts, you don't get paid that week, and if the game gets away from you, it's a slide that is very difficult to stabilise, let alone enter recovery mode.

Right now McIlroy, 26, and Lowry, 28, are free of those concerns.

Multi-millionaire McIlroy goes into the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup finale at East Lake knowing there's a $10 million dollar bonus on offer for the ultimate winner of the overall series.

That's in addition to the total prize fund of $8,250,000.

The winner of the tournament will earn $1,485,000 before checking if he has earned enough points to take the huge bonus home as well.

Lowry's victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational elevated the Clara native on every level and ensures he, too, can look towards making a FedEx Cup challenge in 2016.

In addition, that win has earned Lowry the 'Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month' award for August.

All is rosy in his garden and it is well deserved as Lowry looks ahead to resuming on the European Tour in the Dunhill Links on Thursday week.

When you're in your twenties and the putts are dropping and the cheques are being banked, what's not to like?

On the other side of the glory game is Peter Lawrie, who wants to make money for two reasons: first for earnings, but, more importantly, to save his career.

Lawrie, 41, finished tied 14th in the Italian Open and on Sunday night, the official Race To Dubai ranking list had him at 109th, with earnings of €187,296.

By Monday morning, he was listed in 111th place. The ultimate goal is to safely finish at 110th or better in order to ensure full playing rights in Europe for 2016, and to do that will require about €235,000 when the season finishes.

Lawrie lost his card last year and has gained 24 starts this season to date, mostly courtesy of sponsors' invitations. Time and opportunities are now running out.

He was slightly bemused by the 109th place on Sunday turning into 111 by yesterday, but his main concern is getting to play at least a couple of times more before the dreaded Tour School in November represents the last-chance saloon.

As of yesterday, Lawrie is not in the European Open this week, the Dunhill Links, British Masters at Woburn, the Portugal Masters or the Hong Kong Open.

"I've sent off my begging letters as I've done all year.

"There's no chance of me giving up hope, not at all. It's just a matter of wait and see.

"Every invitation I've received this year has been on the Monday before the tournament.


"There's only been one invitation I've received two weeks before the tournament.

"Every other one has been on the week of the tournament so every week, I don't know whether I'm at home with the kids doing school runs, or whether I'm going to go and play golf.

"All you can do is your best and that's what I've done all year.

"I've given it a good run. Hopefully it doesn't finish here but if it does, then there's nothing I can do about it. I've given it my all," said Lawrie.

The final round of Tour School in November would be an option he would take reluctantly if all else fails.

Just to underline the vagaries of a golfing career, a place in that Final Qualifying in PGA Catalunya Resort from November 14-19 is the goal of ambitious young men such as Walker Cup stars Paul Dunne and Jack Hume.

Dunne and Hume compete in the Tour School First Round qualifying in Austria starting today.

They must get first through that tournament and then the second round next month in order to reach the last stage - a six-round marathon.

If Alex Ferguson had been a golfer, one of his most famous quotes would be altered to: "Golf, bloody hell!"

Irish Independent

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