Lowry gets rub of the green before reaching new highs

Shane Lowry rewarding the tree near the 18th green that knocked his ball onto the green with a hug. The shot helped the Irishman win the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational with a score of -11.
Shane Lowry rewarding the tree near the 18th green that knocked his ball onto the green with a hug. The shot helped the Irishman win the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational with a score of -11.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AKRON (Ohio) • The final round of golf's Bridgestone Invitational was supposed to unfold as a spirited duel between Jim Furyk and Justin Rose, playing partners who entered Sunday tied for the lead.

Instead, a humid afternoon at Firestone Country Club devolved into a frantic scramble at the top.

Emerging from the chaos was Shane Lowry, 28, a relatively unheralded Irishman, who turned in an unexpectedly sharp display to surge past Furyk and Rose and fend off a charging Bubba Watson to win the title.

Closing with a four-under 66, Lowry finished with a 269 total to edge out Watson (66), who rose up the leader board with a series of powerful drives, by two strokes.

The victory is Lowry's first in a World Golf Championships event, and he is the first non-PGA Tour member to win such a tournament since 2011. "I played as good golf as I've ever played the last four days," he said.

"I managed to hole a few putts and get a bit of luck."

Indeed, he took advantage as Rose and Furyk, who tied for third place at 273, collapsed ahead of him.

Before his unravelling, Rose, 35, entered the final day in a favourable position and filled with confidence after making seven birdies on Saturday.

He was undone, however, by four dispiriting bogeys and shot a 72.

Furyk, 45, stumbled in the same fashion. A perennial contender here, he was at times flummoxed by his short game and also made four bogeys and shot a 72.

He now has five top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes in this tournament.

It was Lowry, a bearded and bulky man ranked No. 48, who stirred the crowd instead, with his soft hands, even demeanour and steady play.

Perhaps the moment that best defined his triumph was on the 18th hole, where, in the midst of a tight contest, his drive sailed left and into the rough.

"When you see Bubba and Jim Furyk and Justin Rose chasing you down, you know it's going to be tough," Lowry said.

He responded with a spectacular 143-yard shot that ripped through the tree line, landed neatly on the green and stopped 11 feet from the hole. He offered a sheepish smile afterwards and pumped his fists as if he knew that he had all but sealed the victory.

Lowry birdied the hole.

"Tell Lowry that shot was unbelievable," Watson said afterwards.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Lowry gets rub of the green before reaching new highs'. Print Edition | Subscribe