Lowry digs deep to give home fans cheer

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kevin@tullamoretribune.ie

IT wasn't the tournament he would have wished for but Shane Lowry still gave his thousands of home fans something to cheer for as he dug deep and showed character to play all four days at the Irish Open in Lahinch.

10 years on from the Irish Open that changed his life when he stunned the golfing world by winning in Baltray as an amateur, Lowry is now the second highest ranked Irish golfer after Rory McIlroy – ironically the man he beat in a sensational play off in 2009, England's Robert Rock was the overnight leader in Lahinch, only to be over powered by a blistering 62 from long hitting Spaniard Jon Rahm in Sunday's closing round.

Rock could only manage a level par 70 on a day when the conditions meant that the course was there for the taking and he slipped back to joint fourth, three shots behind Rahm who was two clear of the joint second, Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger.

With late qualifying spots for the British Open, which will be staged at Royal Portrush in just over a week's time, up for grabs the stakes were incredibly high for some of the golfers in a high quality field.

Shane Lowry, however, had no such worries - 33rd in the world and 3rd on the European Tour's Race to Dubai, his place at the British Open was long assured but he was still keen to put on a show for the home fans, who really revere the affable Clara man.

The crowds in Lahinch created a great atmosphere and there was a real festival field to the event with loads of night and day time activities in the locality.

Lowry finished on -4 in joint 34th place, earning €44,069 and as things turned out, that was no poor performance. He would have set his sights on challenging for the title but over half way during Friday's second round, he looked set to miss the cut as he battled stomach sickness, having to throw up on a couple of occasions, before getting back on track.

After the half way mark on Friday, Lowry would gladly have settled for a mid table finish and with a vast following from his home county and town making the journey to Clare, he was glad to play all four rounds.

He played his best golf in Thursday's opening round as he had a -4 66 with five birdies and one bogey but it all went wrong early on in Friday's second round. Between the 6th and 11th, he had a horrendous four bogeys as he took tablets for an upset stomach – news of the life threatening illness for his fellow Clara man, Brian Cowen would also have upset him – and at this stage, he was level par for the tournament and in serious danger of missing the cut.

The cut was hovering around the level par to -1 mark but Lowry regained his equilibrium, sinking crucial birdies on 13 and 15 for a two over par 72, -2 overall for the tournament as he made the cut with one stroke to spare.

On Saturday, he had a level par 70 as he produced a mixed bag – he played some very good golf as he got five birdies but three bogeys and a double bogey 7 on the par five 12th kept him down the leader board.

He recovered on Sunday with his second sub par round, a 68 as he had four birdies and two bogeys.

Lowry is not on the entry list for this week's Scottish Open and instead will be fine tuning his game ahead of the following week's British Open and enjoying the opportunity to spend some time on home turf.

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