Shane Lowry ended his three-year wait for victory with a dramatic win at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.
The Irishman beat close friends Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm in a single blow at Wentworth to claim his first title since The Open Championship in July 2019.
In his sixth win on the DP World Tour, the 35-year-old carded a 17-under with no bogey over the adjusted 54-hole championship, which was truncated from the conventional 72-hole format after round two on Friday after the death of Queen had been canceled Elizabeth II.
After blasting sixes under 66 and 68 in the first two rounds, Lowry finished two shots off the lead on Sunday but saw his final round come to life with an eagle on the fourth hole.
A fourth birdie on the 12th put Lowry level with 2021 US Open champion Rahm, who set the clubhouse goal at 16-under after carding a best 62 of the joint event.
With McIlroy hot on his heels, Lowry had to fuck the final hole to avoid a stabbing with cream after a steady run of five straight pars. After shagging 18th place in the first two rounds, the Irishman pulled off a hat-trick to put himself within reach of the title.
McIlroy needed an eagle on the par 5 final hole to force a playoff and the Northern Ireland was agonizingly close to completing the feat. The newly-crowned PGA Tour Championship winner found the green with two shots, but his 23-foot eagle putt missed by inches to confirm Lowry as champion.
“I’m so happy,” Lowry told reporters. “It’s so hard to win on this tour, on any tour. You have some of the best players in the world trying to hunt you down.
“I felt my game was good enough to win all year and I just felt like I wasn’t getting the breaks I needed to win tournaments.
“I’m just really thankful and really grateful that I got to win this and what a tournament there is to win. It seems like I don’t like making it small when I do it, so it’s nice to have that on my resume as well.
Lowry has four top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, including a second-place finish at February’s Honda Classic for a prize purse of $3,616,679.
In his triumph on Sunday, he takes home €1,351,105.60 ($1,373,533.95) and sweetens the joy of ending a frustrating rut.
“I think if I didn’t get over the line today maybe I’ll go back and start asking questions about what I need to do differently or change because yes my golf is good but if you don’t knock from the wins and you’re playing well, then you might have to ask questions,” Lowry said.
“You spend your life and your career getting up early every day and struggling like hell to get into those positions, and when you get into those positions, it’s pretty awkward.
“It’s not the prettiest place in the world because you don’t want to screw it up and be in your hotel room after you’ve thrown the tournament away and it’s not a pretty place.”
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth on Friday, play resumed on Saturday morning after a two-minute silence from players, staff and fans, with Lowry paying tribute to “an incredible woman”.
“I felt that instead of sitting around and thinking about it, just celebrating her life this weekend would be the right thing to do,” he said.
“The whole world is saddened by her loss but it’s great to see the masses coming out yesterday and today. I felt it was a great way to say goodbye. I know it might not mean much to anyone, but I thought so.”
McIlroy, who helped Lowry to the title eight years ago, said he was pleased to see Lowry finally reaping the rewards of his consistent form.
“He had a lot of close encounters here. When I won in 2014 he finished second behind me and he brought me back today,” the 33-year-old told reporters.
“He’s been knocking on the door for a while. He’s played a lot of good golf this year without actually going over the line.
“So really, really happy for him. We’ve become incredibly close over the past few years, and yes, nice to see.”