Lowry has eyes on chosen 50 prize

Shane Lowry needs only to finish top 20 in this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event to find himself among the chosen 50 in world golf.

Bizarrely, Lowry picked up three spots on the world rankings, moving from 51st, despite his bitter disappointment with a pair of bogeys to finish 16th in last week’s BMW Masters.

It means if the Carton House pro move into the top 50 and remain there as at December 31, he will be guaranteed contesting all four Majors in the New Year for a first time in his career.

That means the Offaly man making his Masters debut in April.

Lowry is in good spirits heading into the $8.5m event at Shanghai, having led his Pro-Am team to victory over the Sheshan course. “It’s a great way to start any tournament winning the pro-am and even though none of the lads in our group spoke English, I managed to make a couple of birdies and one guy in the group playing off 18 had eight pars,” he said.

“It was just lovely to be out early playing a golf course I haven’t always enjoyed and winning the Pro-Am has given me that little boost of confidence I needed, after my poor finish last week at Lake Malaren.

“But then I was very surprised I moved up three spots on the rankings even though I am not trying to look at that side of my golf too much.

“I’ve got a big week this week and then I’m playing in Turkey and Dubai the next two weeks, and if I can keep on playing the way I played today I will definitely be nice to say I am finally in the world’s top 50.

“So the key now this week is keep my head down and not get complacent, and given the way I am playing right now I feel as those I can play well on any golf course.”

Lowry and Graeme McDowell played a practice round together here on Tuesday, and are the only two Irish contesting an event boasting 30 of the world’s top 40.

Meanwhile the European Tour is searching for just the fourth chief executive in its history after the announcement that George O’Grady will step down.

O’Grady, who has been with the Tour for more than 40 years, confirmed on Wednesday he has asked the board of directors to begin the process to appoint his successor.

George O’Grady’s tenure has not been without its problems, but the outgoing chief executive believes his successor will find the European Tour in excellent health.

“In the aftermath of what I believe to have been the best presented Ryder Cup since my first involvement in the contest at Royal Lytham in 1977.

“I felt this was the right time to ask the board to begin the search for my successor.

“We are now seeing the green shoots of recovery across Europe and I am pleased that this coincides with all our building blocks, in terms of key television and sponsorship contracts, being in place.”

O’Grady became chief executive on January 1, 2005, succeeding Ken Schofield who held the position for 30 years after John Jacobs led the Tour’s formative years from 1971 to 1974.

Once his successor is found, O’Grady will take up a role as president of international relations which will see him represent the European Tour through the Olympic Games in 2016.


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