Lowry lifts Irish hopes with Open qualification

Shane Lowry has boosted hopes of a fourth Irish success in eight years by qualifying for next fortnight’s British Open at Royal Liverpool.

Lowry lifts Irish hopes with Open qualification

Lowry secured one of four places into golf’s oldest major by ending the BMW International Open inside the top-20 on the Race to Dubai money list and not being otherwise exempt into the Major which commences on July 17.

The German event ended dramatically with Fabrizio Zanotti defeating Henrik Stenson at the fifth extra play-off hole, and also creating Tour history in becoming the first Paraguay-born player to win on the European Tour.

The 31-year old Asuncion-born player posted a final round 65 to join Stenson (67), Frenchman Gregory Havret (66) and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello (67) in the play-off in the €2m event on the Gut Larcenhof course.

However, after firstly Havret and then Cabrera-Bell dropped out, Zanotti was virtually gifted the €333,330 first prize cheque when Stenson found the water guarding the green at the fifth extra hole, the shortened par four 17th. Stenson then found a green side bunker with his third and after failing to hole his next, the Swede showed his disgust belting his ball back into the water before walking over the shake the hand of a surprised Zanotti.

Lowry arrived in Germany lying 19th on the money list but after posting a final round 67 to share 12th on 16-under par he moved up to 18th on the money list and being among four players, including Cabrera-Bello to now be exempt into Royal Liverpool. Lowry was rushing to the airport breathing a big sigh of relief and will now join former British Open winners Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke along with past US Open winners Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy in the 143rd staging of the championship.

“Qualifying for The Open was in the back of my mind all day, so I am really pleased to have qualified as I struggled on Saturday, shooting a 70, and knew I had to shoot a decent score on Sunday,” said Lowry.

“So after the disappointment of missing the cut in the Irish Open it’s been great to come here to Cologne and qualify for The Open. Overall, I made a lot of mistakes this week but then I also probably made as many birdies and eagles as anyone but it was the 10 bogeys, including the five I had on Saturday, that hurt. Then today seven birdies, including those three in-a-row from the ninth, was more like it and I’m delighted to be going to The Open. But the whole week has been a birdie feast and when you hit the fairway it’s then like throwing darts at the green.”

Belfast’s Michael Hoey posted a closing round 69 to end one shot adrift of Lowry at 15-under par.

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