After weeks when he could virtually smell the scent of those Augusta azaleas, Shane Lowry has at last joined the elite top-50 club on the back of a final round 66 to secure fifth place in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
However it’s still too early to be sorting out Masters guest tickets, as there is five weeks of world ranking points on offer before the new World No. 47 receives any envelope postmarked Augusta, GA.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson captured his first event of the year in successfully defending the event when he birdied his closing two holes to slam the door shut on his three Gleneagles victory colleagues in World No.1 Rory McIlroy (68), Justin Rose (69) and Victor Dubuisson (68) and win by two shots with a 16-under par tally.
McIlroy enjoyed the clubhouse lead on 14-under par before being joined by Rose and then Dubuisson ahead of Stenson denying all four.
“I never expected 14-under par would have the remotest chance of winning this golf tournament,” said McIlroy. “It just seemed like no one really took the tournament by the scruff of the neck and went with it. But then I didn’t play well enough to win this week, and if I had won by playing like this, it would have been a bit of a surprise.”
The four-time Major winner was heading straight to Dubai Airport for the 13-hour flight to Sydney and Thursday’s start to the defence of his Australian Open title.
Lowry is taking a week off in Dubai before heading to South Africa and the December 4 start to the Nedbank Challenge, and also the first event of the 2015 European Tour year, and with it the chance for the Carton House player to cement his place further inside the top 30 by December 31.
“I am really happy as it was one of the goals for me playing these last four tournaments,” he said. “I was between 52 and 54 in the world for a month and I felt like I was playing the golf to have the high finishes to get in there but I just wasn’t scoring well and finishing 15th to 25th in tournaments wasn’t really going to do it.
“So to finally get myself inside the 50 I’m thrilled.”
Lowry ends his fifth year on Tour a career best of 10th on the Race to Dubai and 19 places higher than a prior best two years ago.
“It’s by far my best season and it was nice to finish it with a 66,” he said. “There has been a lot of ups and a lot of downs this year for me but thankfully the highs were a lot better than the lows.”
Among the first to welcome Lowry to the ‘Top-50 Club’ was McIlroy.
“It’s fantastic Shane’s finally inside the 50, and it’s going to be his first trip to Augusta, which will be great for him,” McIlroy said.
“I think Shane will do well around there, because you will need a reasonably sharp short game and that’s really what his game is based on. But then I remember when I got into the top 50 for the first time and it was a great feeling. Shane also will have the freedom to pick and choose where he wants to play, which is also great.”
However there was still no joy for Graeme McDowell failing to break 70 in sharing 47th place at two under par and ending his season 14th on the Race to Dubai and down 10 spots on last season.
“It’s just so frustrating as there is a big prize at the end of this tournament and the end of our season but I come here to Dubai and just can’t put it all together,” he said.
“It just demoralises me and I have to shake that off.”
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