Shane Lowry heading for season finale in promising form
Harrington’s fourth place in Turkey moves him from 170th to 126th in world rankings
If not quite a case of mission accomplished, with his quest for a fourth career tour win rebuked, Shane Lowry at least headed for the air charter from Antalya to Sun City on Sunday evening with one job completed: his tied-eighth finish in the Turkish Airlines Open guaranteed that his season’s journey on the European Tour would go all the way to the last stop, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next week.
Lowry jumped from 62nd to 49th in the latest Race to Dubai standings, with the top-60 available players after the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City making it to the season’s finale. Lowry is now secure in ensuring his presence; but the desire of the 30-year-old Offalyman is to be much more than a just a number and, as he put it, the real positive was in getting into contention in a big tournament again.
On only three occasions in his career on tour has Lowry gone into the final round of a tournament as a leader. The first, let’s recall, was actually when he won the Irish Open in 2009 as an amateur; the second was when he led into the final round of the US Open at Oakmont last year; and the third was in his latest appearance in Turkey. Only once, though, has he managed to get the job done. And that was the first time in Baltray.
In reflecting on his final round, Lowry claimed he didn’t “get any breaks” and pointed especially to his par putt on the fourth which lipped out.
“I mean, it lipped out on the low side and came back up 180 degrees...to me there’s lots of positives to take away”, said Lowry, one of three Irish players – along with Paul Dunne and Pádraig Harrington – competing in Sun City where there is a limited, no-cut field and a purse of €6.5 million.
However, Lowry also departed Turkey aware of the need to get his driving corrected. Normally one of his strongest components, his driving in the final round meant he was playing far too frequently from the rough.
“What I’m doing is poking it a bit, I am not hitting it. I am not getting after it. Maybe it’s a mental thing more than anything else. I am not letting myself hit the shot, that’s what a few bad drives will do to you. But I’ve got a few days to figure it out. I’ll be grand.”
Lowry’s main aim was to ensure he would be getting back to Dubai, “somewhere I have done well”.
With three practice days in Sun City before teeing up on Thursday, Lowry is confident of sorting out his driver. He’ll need to. “It’s quite tight okay. But I feel if you take Italy out [where he was sick], my last half dozen events have been very nice. I am really happy with where my game is.”
One other thing which the Irish trio’s haul of banknotes from Turkey succeeded in doing was ensuring that Ryder Cup points now become a factor. Dunne’s win in the British Masters had already given him a kickstart and he is currently fifth in the European points qualifying table and fourth in the world list. Harrington has now moved to 18th in the European points list, and Lowry to 21st, with the aim to continue such upward momentum.
For Harrington, his performance in Turkey was a huge bonus given that he was playing on a sponsors’ invitation. And, playing on another sponsor’s call in Sun City, it means the money won’t count towards the Race to Dubai, but it will count towards Ryder Cup points, and it will count towards world ranking points.
Harrington’s fourth place finish on Sunday enabled him to move from 170th to 126th in the latest world rankings.
Harrington’s schedule takes him to Sun City this week and, having failed to qualify for Dubai, he will return stateside to the US Tour for the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia. “It’s nice to show some form at the end of the year and give yourself some clarity about what you’re going to do during the winter,” said the three-time Major champion.
Graeme McDowell, a past champion, and Séamus Power are the two Irish players in the field for this week’s PGA Tour stop, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.