Sport Golf

Saturday 7 December 2019

Runaway Rory wraps up title as Lowry takes Turkish bath

Shane Lowry in action during the final round of the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Shane Lowry in action during the final round of the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

William S Callahan

RORY McILROY landed Europe's Race to Dubai yesterday without hitting a ball in anger, turning this week's DP World Tour Championship into a veritable $8m (€6.4m) lap of honour for Irish golf's World No 1.

McIlroy, who's spent the last few days practising in Dubai for the European season's grand finale, simply ran away with the Order of Merit for the second time in three years after the most successful summer of his career.

The landslide began when, days after breaking up with his fiancee, tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy, 25, won Europe's May showpiece BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Admitting he'd found comfort "burying his head in golf" after the split, McIlroy's refreshed ardour for the game brought spectacular reward during a phenomenal four-week, mid-season spell in which he won two more Majors and his first World Golf Championship.

A fortnight after his comprehensive first win at The Open in Hoylake, he romped to victory and returned to World No 1 in the Bridgestone at Firestone. Seven days later, McIlroy bravely fought back on Sunday to clinch a second US PGA and fourth Major title in the twilight at Valhalla.

After his runner-up finish at last month's Dunhill Links, McIlroy left his pursuers in the Race to Dubai only a remote mathematical chance of catching him, giving the Holywood star an opportunity to skip the first three of Europe's 'Final Series' events.

Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia or Marcel Siem needed to win the Turkish Airlines Open yesterday to keep the 'race' alive but talented young American Brooks Koepka, 24, took top honours at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, ensuring the precious Harry Vardon Trophy was McIlroy's.

Another talented Irishman, Shane Lowry, faces a further week on the cusp of the world's elite top 50 after a change of fortune so sudden early on the front nine in Turkey yesterday, it might have given him whiplash.

Lowry was beaming with delight after joining the tournament lead on 12-under par, courtesy of a beautiful eagle three at the fourth, where he hit a glorious mid-iron approach to 30 inches then holed the putt.

After birdies at the first and third, Lowry was flying high until he blocked his tee-shot at the treacherous par-three fifth way right of the green and into the water. His third shot ran into the back fringe and he took three more to get down,

SHELLSHOCKED

Plainly shellshocked, Lowry made double-bogey six at the next and, after a closing 73, finished in a share of 25th (worth €53,433) on seven-under. The Clara man is 17th in the Race to Dubai heading for the World Tour Championship, after which the top-15 in the standings divide the $5m bonus pool.

McIlroy will surpass the record €5.519m which propelled him to the top of the European money list two years ago the moment he tees it up on Thursday and becomes eligible for the $1.25m bonus which goes to the 2014 Race to Dubai winner.

This converts to €997,950, so before he banks a cent of the $8m purse in Dubai next Sunday, his European winnings for the season will be €6.4m… and there's a whopping $1.333m first prize (around €1.06m at current rates) on offer to this week's winner.

McIlroy's worldwide haul this year stands at €8.915m, which will rise to €9.914m when Race to Dubai bonus is banked and, almost certainly, will top the €10m mark on Sunday when his DP World Tour Championship earnings come into the reckoning.

During seven years as a pro, McIlroy at this point has amassed €36,995,831 on the golf course, not including appearance fees, sponsorship or endorsements.

"This has obviously been the best season of my career by a long way and to win the Race to Dubai for the second time is something truly special," said McIlroy. "That four-week spell over the summer, from The Open to the US PGA Championship, would have to be the best golf of my life, so I feel like I've really earned the Race to Dubai."

McIlroy's third-youngest to win it for a second time, after Seve Ballesteros, 20 when he topped the money list for the second of three consecutive years in 1977, and Sandy Lyle, 22 when he retained the title in 1980.

New World No 40 Koepka clinched a first 'big' title to go with the four he won on the Challenge Tour in 2012 and 2013 after a flawless seven-under-par 65 left him one ahead of Poulter, who missed a five-foot putt for birdie and a place in sudden death at the par-five 18th.

Charley Hoffman bravely carved out his third US PGA Tour victory and first since the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship with a fighting final round of five-under par 66 at the OHL Classica at Mayakoba in Mexico yesterday.

Hoffman, 37, beat playing companion Shawn Stefani by one on 17-under Seven consecutive birdies on the front nine sparked dreams of glory for Danny Lee but he'd drop three shots down the stretch at the pain-killers he'd been taking for back pain wore off and a 67 left him tied third on 15-under.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Indo Sport

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport