Friday, 19 March 2010
The 3 Irish Open - Final Round  (Getty Images)
The 3 Irish Open - Final Round (Getty Images)

A star was born when local hero Shane Lowry became just the third amateur to win on The European Tour - at The Irish Open on the third extra hole no less.

But what agonies the 22 year old had to go through at County Louth before he got the better of England's Robert Rock in their sudden death play-off.

Son of a famous Gaelic footballer, Lowry has poised for glory when he pitched to within four feet of the final flag.

But, having raised his cap to the ecstatic crowd as he walked onto the green, he was covering his face in it when he pulled the putt wide.

"I didn't think I would have a better chance than that," he said afterwards. But he did - and in pouring rain he took it to change his life forever.

Rock missed a nine footer at the first play-off hole and after the next was shared in birdies Lowry's tap-in putt for a par five next time round - their fourth playing of the long 18th in the day - gave him the trophy as Rock had pitched over the green and by failing to get up and down ran up a six.

Lowry, who could not accept the first prize of nearly €500,000, is set to decide on Monday whether to turn professional.

Should he decide to go pro he will and be at Wentworth for this week's BMW PGA Championship.

But what state he will be in to play remains to be seen.

"I can't believe it - this is going to take a long time to sink in," said the Walker Cup squad member, who was playing his first European Tour event and on Friday shot a 62 which equalled the lowest round ever by an amateur on the circuit.

That put him in front and with a round to go he shared top spot with Rock. But when he fell two behind on the 11th it looked as if he might slip quietly away.

Not so. Rock bogeyed the next and then Lowry, with fist pumps each time, birdied the 14th and 16th to go ahead.

However, the dramatic finale was set up when Rock, seeking his first win after two runners-up finishes this season, rolled in a 20 footer for birdie at the short 17th to draw level.

With Lowry's horror miss on the last they tied on the 17 under par total of 271, but it was to prove his day after all.

"I know my life is about to change forever," he said and when asked if he would be considering turning pro he replied: "I'd be mad not to.

"I'm feeling shock more than anything. I got an invite here, it's my first tournament and I would have been happy to make the cut.

"But then I shot the 62 and after that I thought 'this is my week - I can win.' And I did!"

Rock's compensation was that, because of Lowry's amateur status, he still took the first prize and with it moves into the top ten on The Race to Dubai.

But he was pushed into the shadows by the plus-five handicapper, whose march to victory was watched by Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen. He also comes from County Offaly.

Third was Swede Johan Edfors, who shared the lead with Rock with six to play, but fell out of the hunt with bogeys at the 13th and 17th.

Joint fourth were England's Nick Dougherty and Scot Marc Warren. For both of them it was their best performance since last August.

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1ROCK, RobertENG18-17
T1LOWRY, ShaneIRL18-17
3EDFORS, JohanSWE18-15
T4DOUGHERTY, NickENG18-13
T4WARREN, MarcSCO18-13
6FORSYTH, AlastairSCO18-12

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