Irish amateur Shane Lowry has won the 3 Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club after a playoff against England’s Robert Rock. He is the second amateur winner on this season’s European Tour but only the third in the Tour’s history.
The 22-year-old began the weather-delayed final round in a tie for the lead with Rock on -16 but, after dropping shots at the 9th and 11th, he looked to have played himself out of contention. But, showing great composure, Lowry fought back and birdies at the 14th and 16th put him back in the hunt.
The Irishman had a chance to win the event in regulation play, but his birdie putt on the final green narrowly missed the cup and Rock was given a lifeline. Despite finding trouble down the right side of the hole, he made his par meaning extra holes were required.
The pair returned to the 18th tee from where Lowry found sand and Rock played to the right side of the fairway. Lowry played out of the bunker then hit an awesome shot with a rescue club onto the front part of the green. Rock laid up with his second on the 559 yard hole and pitched to within 10 feet of the flag with his third. When Lowry’s birdie effort came up just short, Rock had a chance to win. But his putt slid past so it was back to the tee to try again.
This time both played the hole well – Rock making the greenside bunker in two and Lowry firing a sublime 3-wood second to the heart of the green, rolling up to 10 or 12 feet. His eagle effort stayed just on the lip and, when Rock successfully got up and down from the sand, it was back to the tee once more.
This time both players found the rough on the right hand side and both hacked out to leave wedge shots to the green. Lowry’s found the right side of the putting surface. Rock was too bold with his third and ended through the green. When the Englishman failed to get up and down, Lowry had the luxury of two putts to claim a momentous victory.
As the final putt dropped it was a moment to savour for the youngster as he followed Danny Lee as the second amateur winner on this season’s European Tour. The victory also triggered massive celebrations amongst the many Irish fans who had stayed, despite the pouring rain, to cheer their new hero home.
“I can’t believe it – this is going to take a long time to sink in,” said the Walker Cup squad member. “I know my life is about to change forever.”
It was disappointment for Rock as he recorded his third runner’s up finish of 2009. But the Englishman could console himself with the fact that, as Lowry is an amateur he wasn’t eligible to collect the €500,000 winner’s cheque, so that prize went to Rock. The 32-year-old has climbed to seventh in the Race to Dubai.
Sweden’s Johan Edfors finished the week in third place, two shots clear of the British duo – Marc Warren and Nick Dougherty.
The 3 Irish Open
Co Louth GC, Baltray, Ireland
May 14-17, purse €3,000,000, par 72
1 Shane Lowry (Ire) 67 62 71 71 271
2 Robert Rock (Eng) 66 65 69 71 271 €500,000
3 Johan Edfors (Swe) 64 70 68 71 273 €333,330
T4 Nick Dougherty (Eng) 66 67 73 69 275 €168,900
T4 Marc Warren (Sco) 67 69 71 68 275 €168,900
6 Alastair Forsyth (Sco) 67 68 71 70 276 €127,200
7 Roope Kakko (Fin) 66 67 76 69 278 €105,000
T8 Thomas Levet (Fra) 67 66 73 73 279 €82,500
T8 Brett Rumford (Aus) 73 66 72 68 279 €82,500
T10 Richard Bland (Eng) 71 68 71 70 280 €60,800
T10 Anthony Wall (Eng) 72 68 71 69 280 €60,800
T10 Chris Wood (Eng) 69 67 76 68 280 €60,800
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only