Victory slips Lowry by as Power returns to form at Heritage

Bernie McGuire

Shane Lowry (Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Shane Lowry saw his effort of joining Graeme McDowell in regaining his PGA Tour card ruined by a disappointing final round 70 but he remained positive after sharing third place at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.

Lowry headed into the last day trailing World No. 1 Dustin Johnson by a shot but brilliantly soon went two shots clear of ‘DJ’ and the field with three birdies over his opening six holes on the tight Harbour Town course.

Lowry sadly then saw what would have been only a second PGA Tour win slip from his fingers to eventually finish two shots behind Taiwan’s C T Pan who posted a 67 to close out a maiden Tour win by a shot at 12-under par.

Former champ, Matt Kuchar (67) was second at 11-under par, with Lowry tied with Patrick Cantlay (69) and Scott Piercy (69).

“Personally, I feel like it almost got away so I’m a little bit disappointed,” said Lowry

“This was my best week in quite a while and there is so many positives to take from this week, and going forward I’m looking forward to next week.

“Look, after coming so close, it’s hard to describe what it’s like, but I’m sure I’ll get over it and move on to next week.

“The positives I take away is that it’s the best I’ve hit the ball in a while. I’ve already won this year, so this is my ninth tournament. And a win and another great chance to win, I suppose I’m doing things right.”

Hurting the Offaly golfer’s Heritage victory chances was a bogey at the ninth before Lowry uncharacteristically made a mess in ‘duffing’ a chip shot from the edge of the green at the par-4 12th in taking a double-bogey.

Lowry did burst back brilliantly in holing a near 30-footer for birdie through the shadows at the par- 3 14th but it was agonisingly too late for the recently turned 32-year old.

Lowry had earned a three-year PGA Tour exemption with his 2015 WGC -Bridgestone Invitational success but that period of grace ended last August.

Since then, Lowry has been competing thanks to invitations, with the 32-year struggling Stateside despite leading from start-to-finish in January to capture the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

In his six prior 2019 PGA Tour stops, Lowry’s missed the cut in four, including last fortnight’s Masters.

The big plus is that Lowry’s effort should see him jump some 80 places on the FedEx Cup money list to three places shy of the magical No. 125th standing to earn back his PGA Tour card. Though that goal will also hinge on whether he gets further starts on the PGA Tour.

And while Lowry was punching hard to secure victory, fellow Irishman Seamus Power grabbed his first top-10 of the year and only his second top-10 on the main Tour

The 32-year old West Waterford golfer actually attracted host NBC TV coverage with anchors Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz, who had called Tiger Woods Masters win a week earlier, probably affording Power a first mention when he was putting for birdie on the last.

In fact, Power birdied three of his last five holes in a sizzling four-under par 67 for a nine-under par total, then heading the long distance to the clubhouse lead with American J T Poston (66) before eventually sharing sixth place.

“It was a good weekend after posting a 68 on Saturday so that set me up really for today’s round,” said Power.

“My short game was pretty good all week while I just had the one bogey today and that was on the short ninth hole, and while that was disappointing, overall it was a tricky day out there so I can’t complain too much.

“You think the wind is blowing one way atop of the trees and then when you’re out there it seems like down in the trees it might be going another way, and then when you get to the exposed holes at 16, 17 and 18 you can really feel how strong it’s blowing.

“So, it’s tricky and you have to control your ball flight because if you get that wrong you are going to end-up in some spots.

“I was swinging well enough today where I was able to take advantage .”

The effort is Power’s best finish in 69 PGA Tour counting events after a previous highest result of fifth in the 2018 Corales Puntacana Open, the event won recently by Graeme McDowell.

“I can take a lot of positives from this week because my last four to five tournaments have been so much better,” added Power, who had missed 11 of 15 cuts dating back to last October.

“Starting at the Players where I finished just inside the top-40, my game has been so much better and a good week like this is so encouraging going forward, so I am really pleased.”

And while Power continues to strive for a maiden Tour success, his superb South Carolina showing will see him jump some 50 places on the FedEx Cup standings to around 139th on the standings.

Power will need to be inside the top-125 as of August 4th to retain his Tour card for a second year running.

He now heads to New Orleans for Thursday’s starting Zurich Classic and a team format event where Power will partner Canadian David Hearn.

Joining Power will be Ryder Cup Captain, Padraig Harrington who is teaming with Lowry while Graeme McDowell is partnering Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

McDowell ended his Heritage Classic campaign with a weekend pair of 73s to finish just inside the top-50 at one-over par.

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