Sport Golf

Thursday 23 November 2017

Shane Lowry rues 'brain fart' as Alex Noren seizes glory at Wentworth

Ireland's Shane Lowry. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Ireland's Shane Lowry. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

William S Callahan

Never one to dance around an issue, Shane Lowry admitted a "brain fart" cost him any hope of winning the first prize of more than €1 million at the BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth.

Instead, it was Alex Noren and his stunning round of 62 which saw him seize the title, as he watched the leaders fail to reach his mark of 11-under par.

Among those was Lowry, who was part of the five-way tie for second after racing to the turn in 30 thanks to five birdies in the first seven holes, including four in a row from the fourth.

But the 30-year-old then drove out of bounds on the 15th and also double-bogeyed the 17th, before at least ending the week in style with an eagle on the last.

"I feel like it's a lot more than I deserved," Lowry said. "When I got up to the 12th I looked at the scoreboard and I saw Alex had got to 11-under, so I knew what I needed to do.

"We got a bit of rain which didn't help our cause and I just hit a bad tee shot on 15 and had a bit of a brain fart on 17.

"It's my best week in a while so I've just got to build on this now. There's a lot of positives although it's hard to kind of see them now."

Lowry finished in a tie for sixth alongside England's Graeme Storm (68) and overnight leader Andrew Dodt, who birdied the last two holes in his 73. Lee Westwood, who started the day just three off the lead, did likewise to finish in a tie for 14th.

It was, however, Noren's day after he started the day seven shots behind the leaders - and compatriot Henrik Stenson believes he is now ready to take the next step and become a Major champion.

Noren fired eight birdies and an eagle on the 18th to establish a new course record on the revamped West Course, which underwent a £5 million renovation programme immediately after last year's event.

That took Noren to 11-under par and set a clubhouse target none of the later starters were able to match, the 34-year-old having teed off almost two hours before the final group.

British Open champion Stenson was part of a five-way tie on nine-under early on the back nine, but none of the chasing pack were able to get within a shot of Noren, who was left to collect his fifth European Tour title in 11 months.

Italy's Francesco Molinari birdied the final two holes to finish second on nine-under, a shot ahead of Stenson, Hideto Tanihara and Nicolas Colsaerts, who also eagled the 18th in his 65.

"It would be hard to say that you can't see a Major for him in the future if he keeps on playing like that," Stenson said after a closing 68.

"He's worked a lot on his game, sometimes maybe too much. He played just twice in 2014 because of wrist problems but I think he's kind of found his formula and it's obviously working.

"I played with him in the final round when he won in Nedbank last year and the putts that he made were extraordinary.

"He's played a bit more in America. I think that's a bit of a learning experience, to take the game across the Atlantic and get familiar with the courses over there. He's making progress and he's had a very impressive year."

Noren, who won four times in 11 events last season, began the day seven shots off the lead after a double-bogey on the 18th on Saturday, but raced to the turn in 31 and picked up further birdies on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th.

He had saved the best till last, however, rifling a five-iron approach from 204 yards which finished just four feet from the pin to set up a decisive eagle.

On the US Tour, a final round of 66 helped Kevin Kisner hold off the combined challenge of Jordan Spieth, Sean O'Hair and Jon Rahm to win the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas by one shot.

Overnight leader Webb Simpson couldn't get his round going and his one-over 71 saw him finish fifth.

Two bogeys and one double bogey on his back nine saw Graeme McDowell drop down the field to finish on even par in a tie for 29th.

Irish Independent

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