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Monday, January 18, 2021

Lowry bookends RSM with 67s as Streb strikes again at Sea Island

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Shane Lowry finished as he started with a three-under par round of 67 as 54-hole leader Robert Streb came through a playoff to claim a second RSM title at Sea Island.

After an encouraging opening effort, Open Champion Lowry never featured in his second event in the Peach State in as many weeks and his third PGA Tour event on the spin since the Houston Open. There was plenty to like about the Clara star’s performance on Sunday, not least eight birdies with Lowry’s short stick responding for a time. However, there were mental errors too and a couple of short ones missed with Lowry carding three bogeys and a double at the par-5 seventh where the 33-year old had to take a drop for his third after finding trouble left off the tee before holing a gutsy seven-footer to avoid a higher number.

At six-under par for the tournament, Lowry snuck a top-50 finish, three shots clear of good friend Graeme McDowell who failed to fire on Sunday. It was a particularly disappointing finish for the former US Open winner who bogeyed the par-3 17th after failing to get up and down from just off the green before making double from being green-side in two at the par-4 last. All-up it was a two-over par round of 72 for McDowell for a share of 59th at two-under.

Robert Streb went into the final round at Sea Island with a three stroke advantage as he went in search of a second PGA Tour title, the first of which arrived at the RSM some six years ago. A two-under par round of 68 on Sunday would only prove good enough for a playoff as Kevin Kisner played a stunning seven-under par round of 63 to force a tie with his compatriot.

For all the world momentum had swung in Kisner’s direction, the 2015 champion of the event versus the 2014 winner, but Streb didn’t see it that way, planting a birdie at the first extra hole to deny his opponent victory and complete his winning trick of six years ago.

“It’s awesome,” said Streb. “Obviously getting the trophy at the end is phenomenal. We’ve got selfies going on over here. It was a bit of a struggle today at times. It was pretty solid there and then kind of lost it for a little bit. Just kind of hung in there and fortunately nobody got too far away and kind of snuck out of the playoff there.”

The 33-year old’s victory comes in his 165th PGA Tour start since his 2014 victory at the very same event – a wait that he hadn’t envisaged: “Yeah, it was frustrating, I don’t know, I guess I kind of expected it would just kind of keep the same trend,” he added.

“It was tough. And then 2018 I think, that was a really difficult year, ended up getting that win on the Korn Ferry and I kind of treaded water for a little while. I felt like things were starting to get a little better and I wasn’t quite getting the results, but wasn’t expecting this, either.”

For Kisner, it was a fourth top-5 finish in the RSM Classic, more than any player: “I figured the number would be 19 or 20 to start the day and to be able to get there was a good round,” he said. “I made one bogey in 74 holes, which is a hell of a golf I played four days. Hats off to Robert, he hit a heck of a shot on 18 and he played great as well to come back, birdie 17 and he’s a deserving champion.”

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