Lowry third amateur to win on European Tour

By Norman Dabell

BALTRAY, Ireland (Reuters) - Irishman Shane Lowry became the third amateur to win a European Tour event on Sunday by clinching the Irish Open on a playoff.

Lowry, 22, defeated British professional Robert Rock at the third extra hole of a sudden-death playoff after both men finished on 17-under-par 271, two strokes better than Swede Johan Edfors.

After missing a birdie putt inside four feet on the final hole to win the tournament without the shootout, Lowry defeated Rock, who had to settle for his second runner-up spot in successive weeks.

While Lowry can savour a two-year exemption when he decides to turn professional, Rock's consolation was to pocket the $665,000 (438,555 pounds) first prize.

Lowry, Rock and Edfors, the only European Tour title-holder in the trio, became the only realistic winners on the final day but Edfors, who started the final day two shots off the lead, faded out of the picture after the turn to also card a 71.

The playoff pair had begun the final round, which was again hit by bad weather causing a two-hour delay to the start, locked together after Lowry had bogeyed the final hole on Saturday to Rock's birdie.


Rock then took the outright lead at the 11th but a nervy run saw Lowry catch him by the 16th and the Englishman needed a 20-foot birdie putt on 17 to set up the shootout.

In heavy rain, Rock's missed nine-foot birdie putt at the first playoff hole took the contest on. While Rock then got up and down from nine feet after bunkering himself to birdie, Lowry took two putts from 12 feet for his birdie.

At the third extra hole, both players erred off the tee to finish alongside the spectator path but Lowry was able to scramble par to Rock's bogey to win on his European Tour debut.

"After what happened on the final hole I had to say to myself you're still in it, keep plugging away, " Lowry told reporters.

World number 19 Rory McIlroy came out of a huge crowd to offer encouragement to Lowry, who praised the gallery for helping him prevail.

"The crowd were my 15th club," added Lowry who now will have to decide whether to turn professional or take up his expected place in Britain and Ireland's Walker Cup team in September against the United States.

Although only 16th in the world amateur rankings the youngster from County Offaly belied inexperience and standing to become only the third Irish winner of the event in 27 years.

"This will open so many doors to me," the winner told reporters. "I don't know whether to turn pro now.

It was Rock's career third runner-up placing.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

Article Published: 17/05/2009