Sports

Lowry draws curtain down on 2017 with sensational Dubai charge

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Lowry draws curtain down on 2017 with sensational Dubai charge thumbnailShane Lowry has had a brilliant finish to the season.

A tumultuous 2017 season during which he blew hot and cold ended in spectacular fashion for Shane Lowry on Sunday when he charged up the leader board at the World Tour Championship in Dubai to finish second.

It was a spectacular end to the golfing season for Lowry and it has changed the possible trajectory of his 2018 season.

In many ways, the whopping 612,356 euros that he earned for his joint second finish was the least significant part of his success story in the desert state.

Most significantly, he took a huge jump up the world rankings, moving from 85th to 58th place. Getting back into the world's top fifty and earning automatic qualification for all the big events next year, including the US Masters in Augusta, is his immediate short term priority and he is now within touching distance of that goal.

It also saw him finish 22nd on Europe's money list, moving up from the 50th place he was in before tee off in Dubai - he has earned 1,393,912 euros in Europe this season. It also gives him the very tantalising goal of chasing down a Ryder Cup place for next year's big shoot out against the USA in France. Lowry will need considerable further success for that to happen but it is now very much a possibility, though not a probability - he moved to sixth on the Ryder Cup's Europeans points list on Sunday.

It will also send him into the 2018 season with his confidence soaring and he will be able to sit back and enjoy the Christmas break.

It has been an amazing turn around for Lowry, who struggled to put a string of decent results together for much of the season. It left him facing missing out on the European Tour's big season ending event as he was outside the top sixty just a few weeks ago.

This meant that he had to play more events than he normally would over the past few weeks as he hunted down qualification but it has all paid off now. He has finished the season quite brilliantly. After missing the cut at the Italian Open in the middle of October, he has had a series of great performances - Lowry finished 12th in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, 8th in the Turkish Airlines Open and 12th in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

He almost drew the curtain down on the season with one of the biggest wins of his career - only his 2015 win at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio would have surpassed it.

He finished joint second on -18 with Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and was only one shot behind the winner, Jon Rahm - the powerful hitting Spaniard's -5 was sufficient to get him out on top by one shot.

At one stage, it looked like Lowry might get an astounding win, or at least end up in a play off. Having went into the club house early after a 9 under 63, Lowry might have expected others to move ahead of him, even though it was clear that he would have a high finish and big pay day.

However, he was joint top as the last players went down the stretch and it took a birdie from Rahm on the 16th to edge him one shot clear. Pars on the 17th and 18th sealed the deal for Rahm but Lowry was still a very happy man afterwards.

The Clara man told the Irish Times afterwards: "I didn't know I was going to shoot the best score of the season on the last day of the season. At least it gives me something to smile about going into my Christmas break. I'm very happy going into my off season. This is payback for any bad scores I have had over the last while. My iron play has been great of late. I've given myself lots of chances. The last few weeks, I've managed to hole a few putts and this week in particular, I felt like I drove it quite well."

It made for compelling viewing as Lowry and Sergio Garcia looked like they could triumph at different stages before Rahm came charging. The race for the overall Race to Dubai winner also commanded attention with Justin Rose in pole position at the start of the day, ahead of the pre-tournament leader, Tommy Fleetwood - Fleetwood just edged out his fellow country man, despite a 21st place finish and a closing 2 over round of 74. Rose finished joint 4th with Garcia and Dean Burmester on -17 but needed to break clear of that trio to win the title and the 1 million euro bonus.

Lowry played his best golf of the season on Sunday. With questions hanging over him about his ability to post four quality rounds together, he answered the doubters very emphatically. Playing ruthlessly efficient and courageous golf and with his putter on fire, he sank ten birdies and the only blemish was a bogey five on the 3rd.

He referred to those questions afterwards himself when he said: "My Sundays have been poor of late and a couple of my friends texted me before today saying I was due a good Sunday. There it is."

He played very well throughout the four days. On Thursday, he had a -3 69 (four birdies and one bogey), on Friday, his -2 70 included four birdies and two bogeys and he had a -4 68 on Saturday (5 birdies and one bogey).

He was so close to having a play off as a chip on the 18th almost dropped but it was still a hugely satisfying end to the season for Lowry and it was his lowest round on tour since 2011.

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