Lowry claims Irish crown


Irish Close Championship:Shane Lowry is the new Irish champion after a 4 and 3 victory over Niall Turner in the Golfsure Irish Amateur Close Championship at Cork yesterday. The Esker Hills man produced spectacular birdies on the 14th and 15th holes to close out Ireland's top amateur in the US, Muskerry's Turner.

"I'm on top of the world at the moment," said Lowry, "I still can't believe it. I thought because I'm a better strokeplay player my first win would be the East or the Irish Strokeplay, but to win this is unbelievable."

After sharing the opening hole with par fours, Lowry birdied the par five second to take the lead. Turner drove the green at the 285-metre par four third and he levelled the match when his eagle putt for two was conceded.

Lowry regained the lead at the fourth with a par, but took a bogey at the par five fifth as Turner made par to again tie the match. But Lowry was back in front at the sixth with a birdie three. The seventh was halved in par threes and the eighth in bogey fives, while Turner made a par three at the ninth to Lowry's bogey four to tie the match.

An unfortunate turn of luck handed Lowry the 12th hole, when the Corkman's pitch landed four feet from the hole before the ball sucked back and all the way off the green.

After that, Lowry grew in confidence and after halving the short 13th, a splendid approach on the 14th earned a birdie to go three up. O15 Lowery attacked the toughly placed pin and landed it six feet short, before holing for a birdie and victory.

"I had been playing solid all week," he said. "But after the front nine my caddie kept saying to me, 'you're good enough to win this', and I started to hit the shots I wanted after that."

"I think my chance has gone for the Walker Cup this year, but my big aim now is to be playing in it in two years. Then I'd hope to be playing on the professional tour not long after that."

IRISH AMATEUR CLOSE CHAMPIONSHIP (at Cork Golf Club) - Semi-finals: N Turner (Muskerry) bt C Curley (Newlands) 2 and 1, S Lowry (Esker Hills) bt J Caldwell (Clandeboye) 2 and 1. Final: Lowry bt Turner 4 and 3.