Shane Lowry heads for FedEx Cup playoffs with a spring in his step after Offaly U20 win

Clara man on hand at Croke Park to celebrate first All-Ireland win at grade since 1988

Shane Lowry will swap Croke Park for Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey as he contests the first of three tournaments in the FedEx Cup playoff series, the Northern Trust tournament. A field of 125 golfers will tee it up on Thursday with the top 70 in the standings after the event qualifying for the BMW Championship and just 30 heading to the PGA Tour Championship finale at East Lake Country Club.

The 34-year-old was on hand at GAA headquarters with his father Brendan, a member of Offaly’s 1982 All-Ireland senior football winning side, to celebrate the county’s triumph over Roscommon in claiming a first All-Ireland under-20 (21) football since 1988.

Lowry, who is coming off a 23rd-place finish in the WGC St Jude Invitational – he didn’t play last week’s final event in the regular season, the Wyndham Championship – is 66th in the FedEx standings going into this week. There are 2,000 points available to the winner of the Northern Trust tournament with a sliding scale of points depending on finishing position.

The Irish golfer is currently 30 points ahead of JT Poston in 70th place, the American in the bubble position for those that qualify for the BMW Championship. West Waterford’s Séamus Power, who enjoyed a brilliant maiden victory on the PGA Tour last month, lies in 73rd place, 27 points behind Poston.


Rory McIlroy (26th) also returns to tournament golf after finishing 12th in the St Jude Invitational a couple of weeks ago. A two-time outright FedEx series winner in 2016 and 2019, he has a best finish in the Northern Trust tournament of tied sixth, which he managed two years ago.

There were some high-profile casualties that didn't make this week's tournament and arguably the most unfortunate was England's Justin Rose. At various stages during Sunday's final round of the Wyndham Championship, the 2013 US Open champion was inside the top 125 in the FedEx standings until he missed a five-foot par putt on the home green.

That three-putt bogey saw him drop to 126th place and miss out. He doesn't lose his card because of previous Tour wins. It's a similar case for several others but not Tommy Fleetwood (137th) who is without a card in America for next season and will have to rely on invites.

A third high-profile casualty from the 2021 FedEx series was Rickie Fowler (134th) but fortunately for the American he's exempt through the 2022-23 season thanks to his 2015 Players' Championship win – it carries a five-year exemption – and subsequent victories in 2017 and 2019, which added a year on each occasion to that status.

Dustin Johnson is the defending champion, albeit he won the Northern Trust tournament at TPC Boston 12 months ago. The last time it was staged at this week's venue, Liberty National, was in 2019 when Patrick Reed claimed victory.

The AIG Women's British Open, the fifth and final Major of the season, takes place at Carnoustie this week, with Germany's Sophia Popov set to defend the title she won at Troon last year.

Leona Maguire, who finished tied 15th at the Scottish Open and Stephanie Meadow will be in action in a very strong field that includes world number one, Women's PGA and Olympic champion, Nelly Korda.

Three Irish players, European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington, Niall Kearney and Gavin Moynihan will be in action when the European Tour stops in Prague for the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Club.

There is a sizable Irish contingent in action for the Challenge Tour's Sydbank Esbjerg in Denmark that includes John Murphy, Jonathan Yates, James Sugrue, Robin Dawson, Michael Hoey, Conor O'Rourke, Conor Purcell and Paul McBride.

Paul McGinley will act as tournament host for the Legends Tour (over 50s), a rebrand of the European Seniors Tour, at the beautiful Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Donegal. McGinley will be joined by former Major winners Ian Woosnam and Paul Lawrie along with Ireland's Philip Walton and Brendan McGovern to highlight a few names taking part.

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy’s maiden victory on the Europro Tour has moved him into fourth place in the standings. The top five players at season’s end win Challenge Tour cards.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer