Lowry breathes a huge play-off sigh of relief

Bernie McGuire
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Shane Lowry (Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry could breathe a big sigh of relief after booking a place in this week’s PGA Tour opening ‘Play-off Series’ event after a ‘stressful’ final round 67 at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

Lowry grabbed five birdies but also dropped two shots, with his bogey at the par-3 16th presenting the reigning Open Champion with the biggest concern in his eventual 12-under tally.

For an 11th Tour event since the mid-June return to competition, it was a ‘no spectator’ event thus ruling out the famed ‘Margaritaville’ stand located close to the back of the 18th on the Sedgefield course.

But Lowry wasn’t after a cool, calming Margarita!

Two years ago, Lowry missed the Wyndham halfway cut and effectively lost his PGA Tour card in what was his last event of the 2018 season under the auspices of a three-year Tour exemption in winning the 2015 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational.

And a little like Seamus Power, also at the 2018 Wyndham, Lowry was hanging on just for confirmation he’d done enough to secure play in the ultra-lucrative play-offs.

Lowry had arrived earlier last week lying 131st on the FedEx money-list standing and six places outside the qualifying places for Thursday’s starting BMW Championship at the TPC Boston course.

The Clara golfer walked from the course mid-afternoon Sunday lying just outside the top-20 on the leaderboard but in the bigger play-off picture he was projected to move to 122nd on the money list.

The top-125 were guaranteed a tee-time later this week in the opening of three play-off series events and those ranked 126th or higher it was an end to their 2019/2020 season.

Just once before in his short PGA Tour career has Lowry made the play-offs and that was a year ago but he had looked set to breeze into the play-offs this time around on the back of his second round 63, a PGA Tour career low for the Irishman.  However, he gave back the hard-fought advantage with a no-frills third round level par 70.

Though Lowry looked a man on a mission on day four, holing a 28-footer for birdie at the par-3 fourth hole and then landing a 121-yard wedge shot to just three-feet at the next for a second straight birdie.

Lowry then holed a 12-footer for a birdie at the sixth and while he dropped a shot on seven, he grabbed it back thanks to an eight-footer on the ninth.

The par-4 13th proved lucky for Lowry for the second time in the four rounds when he landed a 111-yard second shot to just less than four-feet from the flag for the fifth birdie of his round.

He arrived at the 16th projected to safely move to just inside the top-120 but alas he three-putted from 40-feet for a bogey.

It was not for well over an hour and as the leaders were making their way to the turn that Lowry could relax knowing he was projected to move-up nine places to 122nd on the Tour money list and thus secure a Thursday tee-time in Boston.

“Today shouldn’t have been that stressful, but it was. I don’t know why,” said Lowry.

“You look at what I’ve achieved in the last year or two, stuff like that shouldn’t really be as stressful as it was, but it was. It’s a big deal. We all know if we can make it to Boston that a good week there, you know, can do big things.

“I’m happy to make it if I do, and hopefully I can go and play some good golf next week.

“Obviously the goal next week would be to make Chicago. Then the goal from there is to make it to East Lake, but that would be a hell of a three weeks. I need to do something very special.

“But I feel like I’m playing good golf. To be honest, I feel like all that outside stuff got in my way a little bit over this weekend. I felt like I was in a great position heading into the weekend, I just struggled yesterday.

“Then today I got off to a great start and it was going lovely. Then the last few holes, it was almost like, you know, you’re playing on the cut mark.  It was strange.

“I’m just thankful of that par on the last because I had a similar situation here three years ago, I needed to make birdie on the last to get in and I had the exact same shot as I had there and I hit wedge to the front of the green and I hit wedge there to about six feet, so that was nice.”

In contrast, Seamus Power officially ended his 2019/20 season with a closing round 66 for a 10-under par total.

The West Waterford golfer was projected to jump 10 places to 151st on the money list and outside the top-125 but under a PGA Tour rule, and due to the Coronavirus, Power will retain his full status for next month’s start to the 2020/21 season.

There was also an unlikely winner at the Wyndham Championship with journeyman pro Jim Herman, who barely made the cut, shooting 61, 63 over the weekend rounds to take the title and he also now joins Lowry in the top-125 on the FedEx Cup rankings.

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