Lowry fans

Shane wins, Rory’s back

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Members of Esker Hills Golf Club celebrate as Shane Lowry wins the WGC Bridgestone Invitational

By Ray O’Hanlon


Shane’s breakthrough and Rory’s comeback are the big Irish golf stories this week.

Actually, they are the big world golf stories as Shane Lowry’s win Sunday at the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio has reverberated across the global game.

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And Rory McIlroy turning up at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin to defend his PGA title later this week has been making headlines as well.

Many were expecting the Clara, Co. Offaly native Lowry to make the breakthrough on the PGA circuit, though some might have been a little surprised that it happened in Akron, where the elite of golf were competing by invitation.

And though the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club is not a golf Major, it features a Major-worthy field.

Lowry had to fend off the challenges of this year’s Major winners Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson over the four days, and in the final holes he had to see off two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, as well as former U.S. Open winners Justin Rose and Jim Furyk.

This was a big win for Lowry, a very big win.

And it was achieved with grit and style.

Twice Lowry saved himself from disaster by hitting the green after being stymied behind trees, first on the tenth when he launched a blind wedge shot that ended a little over a foot from the cup, and again after a wayward drive on the 18th.

A second shot over the trees on that final hole clipped a branch and landed about ten feet from the hole.

Lowry sank the putt for a most unlikely birdie and secured a two shot win over Watson while registering a final round of 66.

Throughout his round Lowry demonstrated the kind of sangfroid necessary to win the big ones.

He did so with mostly fairway hitting drives and in particular several clutch par-saving putts, one of them being a 17-footer on the 14th after finding a bunker.

The win delivered a check for $1,570,000 and an open door to the PGA Tour and the Fed Ex Cup.

It also vaulted Lowry from 48 to 19 in the official world golf rankings.