ON the 10th anniversary of his sensational breakthrough win, Shane Lowry showed how far he has progressed as he turned potential “disaster” into a significant triumph of sorts when he finished a very satisfying eight in the US PGA at a teak tough Bethpage Black course on Sunday.
Lowry had to dig deep to make the weekend cut on Friday and having barely survived, he gradually climbed up the leaderboard on the weekend and was thrilled to end up with a top ten finish.
That certainly looked unlikely on Thursday and Friday but Lowry showed his quality as the iconic and notorious New York course claimed many a high profile casualty, including Masters winner Tiger Woods who missed the cut.
While the Clara professional has his sights set on winning major titles, he was nonetheless delighted with the way he performed.
He finished tied 8th, alongside Rory McIlroy and others on +1 and the fact that just six players ended up on under par shows how tough the course played – for a long time, the tournament developed into a procession for the winner Brooks Koepka but even he fell victim to the course on Sunday as Dustin Johnson charged up the rails and he began to shoot bogeys before holding on for a two shot win on -8.
Lowry's performance came as he marked the tenth anniversary of his 2009 win in the Irish Open. His win as an amateur catapulted him to international fame and he turned professional within weeks – the audience in Bethpage Black included his father Brendan and fellow Clara man, David Reynolds who was his caddy when he won the Irish Open. He has since embarked on a phenomenally successful professional career, albeit with plenty of highs and lows.
However, after losing his US PGA Tour card last year, his career trajectory turned once again this year with victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship. That moved him back into the world's top fifty, opened up the US Tour to him once again and earned him competing rights in all the big events.
He has taken full advantage and his performance last week earned him €207,190 as well as moving him inside the top 40 to 39th in the world rankings – he is also 3rd in the European Tour's Race to Dubai order of merit.
On Thursday, he had found the going tough as a +5 75 left him fighting for his championship life. Playing the back nine first, he had turned on two over with three bogeys and one birdie but a futher five bogeys, along with one birdie on his back nine left him on the cusp of elimination.
He turned it around on Friday, gaining greater accuracy off the tee which was crucial at the Long Island course, where the penal rough made it very difficult to hit greens. A birdie three on the 6th saw him turn on -1, he had a bogey five on the 16th but recovered immediately with a birdie on the par three 17th and a -1 69 kept him in the tournament, just ahead of the +5 cut.
You would still have got low odds on Lowry having a top ten finish from here but he played some superb golf over the weekend as he shot two more sub par rounds and that was a very noteworthy achievement on that course.
Saturday's -2 68 included three birdies and one bogey and he kept his composure on Sunday, scarcely putting a foot wrong as he had birdies on four and seven and a bogey on 14 in a -1 69 – Lowry's ability to recover from the odd errant shot was instrumental in his excellent showing.