Ireland’s Shane Lowry yesterday became only the third amateur to win a European Tour event when he took the Irish Open at Baltray. The 22-year-old, currently 16th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, beat England’s Robert Rock after three extra holes of County Louth Golf Club were required to determine the contest.
Lowry, a member of the 2009 Walker Cup squad, was competing in his first professional event at Baltray; a fact that makes his achievement even more remarkable. Having consistently led from the second round onwards, he missed a four-foot putt at the 18th to take the title in regulation play. However, after both golfers made par at the first play-off hole, and birdie at the second, Rock bogeyed the next and left Lowry with a comfortable 12-inch putt for victory.
In a fantastic amateur career that has seen him twice win the European Amateur Team Championship with Ireland, lift the St Andrews Trophy with Great Britain & Ireland, and take the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy with Europe, Lowry reached a highest position of 3rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. And having narrowly missed out on his Tour card at Qualifying School last year, the Esker Hills member will undoubtedly be considering joining Rory McIlroy, a former team-mate, on the professional circuit.
The fact that there have been two amateur wins on the European Tour this year – the first being Danny Lee’s victory at February’s Johnnie Walker Classic – highlights the strength of the amateur game at present and illustrates the ever-closing gap between the golf being played at the professional and elite amateur levels. It also serves to demonstrate the World Amateur Golf Ranking’s continued success in identifying those players who have the ability to go on to make an impact at the very highest levels of competitive golf.