Rolex Series

Shane Lowry's Major 2019 - It all started in Abu Dhabi

A new year often brings new optimism, new goals and new focus and in 2019, maybe Shane Lowry had a point to prove as well.

The Irishman’s second-place finish in Valderrama the previous season was one of just two individual worldwide top tens in a 2018 that saw him end the year ranked 75th on the Official World Golf Ranking - his lowest position on New Year's Eve in five years.

His finish of 44th on the Race to Dubai was his lowest since 2010 and while those positions would represent a fine season for many, Lowry was a man with three DP World Tour wins under his belt, including a stunning home triumph as an amateur and a World Golf Championships title.

Within seven months of his arrival at Abu Dhabi Golf Club for the first Rolex Series event of the 2019 season, his tally would be five and his world would be very different.

He flew out of the gate at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, posting a bogey-free 62 on day one that matched the course record and handed him a three-shot lead.

His lead was trimmed to one after a second-round 70 but a 67 on Saturday handed him a three-shot advantage over Richard Sterne, with the duo set for a final-round duel in the desert ahead of the chasing pack.

And it looked like he may miss out on a first title in over three years, as he found himself four behind the South African with seven to play after bogeys on the ninth and 11th as Sterne turned in 31.

Birdies on the 12th and 13th saw Lowry bounce back in fine fashion and when Sterne dropped shots on the 14th and 16th, we were tied at the top and set for a grandstand finish.

A 12-footer at the 17th for par kept Lowry in a share and he tapped in for birdie at the par-five last to lift the trophy and start 2019 in perfect fashion.

"It was an emotional roller coaster today," said Lowry after his victory.

"I obviously went out with the lead by a few and before I knew it I was four behind. I was brave out there today. I ground it out well and I'm over the moon.

"I'm just so grateful that I've won this and I'm so happy and I'm going to really enjoy it because you just don't know when it's going to happen again."

It happened again just over six months later as Lowry rode his excellent form all the way to the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush.

Shane Lowry The Open 2019-1157418551
Lowry claimed the Claret Jug with a dominant performance at Royal Portrush

He finished eighth at the US PGA Championship in a run of three top tens in four events on the PGA TOUR in the leadup to the The Open, the first held on the island of Ireland in 68 years.

After Rory McIlroy just missed the cut, all Irish eyes turned to Lowry and he duly delivered, making five birdies on the back nine on Saturday to post a 63 and lead by four.

He then withstood miserable weather conditions and the weight of local expectation on Sunday to claim his first Major title with a stunning six-shot victory, sparking wonderful scenes and wild celebrations in the process.

The result helped him finish a so-far career-best fourth on the Race to Dubai and since then he has made a Ryder Cup debut and claimed a second Rolex Series title at last year's BMW PGA Championship.

But when Lowry looks back on his momentous, Major-winning 2019, he will know that it all started in Abu Dhabi.

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