Tuesday 24 October 2017

Shane Lowry shows his class on one of America's toughest tracks

Shane Lowry of Ireland waits to putt on the 12th green of the north course during round two of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course
Shane Lowry of Ireland waits to putt on the 12th green of the north course during round two of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course

William S Callahan

SHANE LOWRY quietly stated his intent to copper-fasten his place in the big-time of world golf with a sublime closing 68 as the South Course at Torrey Pines yesterday bared its teeth and showed its Major Championship credentials.

This stirring effort was good enough to clinch for Lowry his first top-10 finish in the US, just two outside a four-man playoff between JB Holmes, Harris English, Jason Day and defending champion Scott Stallings for the 2015 Farmers Open title.

The Clara man completed his opening tournament of 2015 and first event in 10 weeks in a tie for seventh on seven-under with Martin Laird of Scotland (69), Nick Watney (73) and Jimmy Walker (73).

The hullabaloo raised by Tiger's withdrawal with a ricked back after 11 holes last Friday and the failure of local hero Phil Mickelson (like Padraig Harrington) to make the cut for the second week in succession dominated the weekend agenda at La Jolla.

After revealing in a text to pal Notah Begay that he'd tweaked a muscle and not damaged the disc which required surgery last March, Woods should tee it up as scheduled in the Honda Classic in a fortnight.

Following his long-awaited breakthrough into golf's top-50 in November, Lowry (below) clearly posted his intent to stay there over the weekend

.If he found the going tough on the South Course during Thursday's 74, Lowry strolled through the cut with a second round 67 on the North Course. He then showed his acumen on Saturday (72) and yesterday on one of America's toughest tracks, venue for the 2008 US Open

Conditions were ideal for the Clara man as he holed out from eight feet for birdie at the second and followed-up with two nine-footers at the fifth and sixth to move to six-under.

The clifftop fairways were slower than in June 2008, while the rough's US Open thick, making Lowry's precision and power from tee to green all the more impressive as a chill wind began to whip-in from the Pacific. His only bogey came at 15 but Lowry made lovely birdie fours at 16 and 18 .

Peter Lawrie boosted his bank balance by nearly €52,000 on a three-week spin through Qatar, Dubai and Malaysia but, importantly, also beefed up his confidence after losing his European Tour card last November.

The popular Dubliner (40) was grateful to receive sponsor's invites to this train of events and didn't waste an opportunity to build momentum and morale. After propelling himself into fifth with Friday's 66, Lawrie fell back on Saturday (73) but rallied with a satisfying 70, featuring an eagle three at the third, to share 16th in the Maybank Malaysian Open.

The €34,898 cheque Lawrie received is his biggest by far for 18 fruitless and fiercely dispiriting months. He needed a first five finish to play this week's Thailand Classic but tees it up on Thursday week in the Hero Indian Open in Delhi.

Q-School graduate Anirban Lahiri, 27 from Bangalore, India, took advantage of a ropey 74 by overnight leader Bernd Wiesberger to seal his first European Tour victory on 16-under with a closing 68.

Graeme McDowell once again failed to find the magic sparkle of Thursday's opening 66. A finishing 75 left him tied 36th on two-under (worth €18,471). Michael Hoey was 52nd on two-over following a wayward 77.

Paul McGinley was 73rd on 11-over. After an encouraging 69 in his first round of the year, the Ryder Cup skipper found the undulating terrain demanding after recent knee surgery, playing his final 54 holes in 76, 77 and 77.

McGinley flies halfway around the world to this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am in California, in which Harrington and Lowry also play.

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