10 of the best: A star is born at Baltray

Mark McGowan

Shane Lowry after holing the winning putt at Baltray (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

On the morning the Horizon Irish Open gets underway at the K Club, we’ve reached number one in our countdown of the top-10 Irish Opens from years gone by…..

1. A star is born at Baltray – 2009

Though Shane Lowry was a big name in amateur golf, he was an unknown entity on the professional circuit but that all changed virtually overnight as he became just the third (and last) amateur to win a European Tour event. Wild and wet, County Louth Golf Club served up a golfing test that was one for the purists and Lowry, who’d cited making the cut as his objective for the week, braved the elements better than all the rest.


But it could so easily have ended before it really began. Three-over through his opening five holes, he rebounded to turn in a five-under first round and when he followed with an incredible 10-under 62 to lead by two through 36 holes, people began to take notice.

A 71 on moving day was enough to see him tied for the lead with Robert Rock going into the final round, and thanks to the horrific weather closing in that would be the lasting impression of the week, the inexperienced Offalyman wouldn’t have to wait around all day before getting the biggest round of his fledgling career underway.

Lowry after birdieing the 14th in the final round (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Playing fearlessly, he stood his ground and when the heavens opened, gritted his teeth and told himself that this was his day. Rock holed a lengthy putt on 17 to draw level but Lowry played the 18th aggressively and gave himself a four-footer for the win. Alas, the putt slid by and the fairytale moment looked to have passed. But after grinding out pars on the first playoff holes, it would be Rock who’d blink first and at the second bite at the cherry, Lowry would make no mistake. Cue wild celebrations in front of delirious home support with former amateur partner Rory McIlroy waiting greenside with a bottle of champagne.

Rock’s consolation was the winner’s share of the prizemoney, but his amateur opponent’s prize was something money can’t buy. He’d turn professional the following week, his European Tour card secured and his place in the hearts and minds of Irish golfing fans cemented.

For the magnitude of the achievement, the kickstart it provided to the professional career of the man who’d become a cultural and national icon, and the lasting image of the wide smile whilst soaked to the skin, Lowry’s win at Baltray takes top spot in our Irish Open Hall of Fame.

Shane posing with his prize (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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