Shane Lowry taunts LIV rebels by celebrating Wentworth’s thrilling win ‘for the good guys’

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Shane Lowry taunts LIV rebels by celebrating Wentworth’s thrilling victory ‘for the good guys’ – ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Three years and 76 tournaments later, Shane Lowry finally followed his success at the 2019 Open with a remarkable win at the BMW PGA Championship, avoiding a bogey all week.

Rory McIlroy, his former teenage partner on the Irish amateur team, came within inches of forcing a play-off, but when his eagle dribbled past on the 18th, Lowry held his head in his hands and took his overdue win in the DP in receipt. The flagship of the World Tour.

However, this emotional victory was much more than just personal affirmation. “This was a win for the good guys,” said Lowry, with a far from subtle dig at the 15 LIV contracted players who decided to start it here.

Patrick Reed predicted there would be “a media show” if one of the rebel golfers got the upper hand. As it was, there were two in the top five, with Reed fifth after a 63 and compatriot Talor Gooch fourth after a 67 leaving him one behind McIlroy and Jon Rahm in a tie for second. That made it all the sweeter for Lowry.

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“I made no secrets about how I felt about the whole LIV thing at the start of the week,” Lowry said. “I wanted to win this tournament first and foremost for myself, but also for everyone who has remained loyal to this tour. I have been close a few times since Portrush and words cannot describe how happy I am, how much this means to me and how much I love this tour.”

Don’t tell the Saudi Arabia-funded circuit, but maybe there’s something in this 54-hole malarkey, as this was one of the most exciting finals on the West Course in decades.

While Rahm posted an early 62 – a round of 10 under in which he was nine under for his last 10 holes, including a bogey – to set a target of 16 under, Lowry and McIlroy gave chase and the first caught the Spaniard making an eagle and four birdies in his first 12 holes.

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At the time, it looked like the 35-year-old would win at a gallop, but the birdies dried up and he went into 18th knowing he needed another red figure to pass Rahm. By this time there was the added McIlroy compilation to be reckoned with.

Rory McIlroy came close to forcing a playoff - GETTY IMAGES

Rory McIlroy came close to forcing a playoff – GETTY IMAGES

The world No. 3 started out ahead and was not at his best, unable to build on his eagle on fourth and a bogey on eighth. Still, McIlroy went deep and birdied on the 10th and 12th, and when his 15-footer fell on the 15th, he was within one and the 25,000-strong crowd was entranced.

Like Lowry in the breakaway, he failed to birdies the par-five 17th and realized he had to go one better than his Ryder Cup teammate to get even.

Lowry split the fairway and hit a lush approach to 18 feet. He stroked his putt down the slope and, with the four on par five, Rahm advanced 65 for a total of 17 under. Can McIlroy conjure a three? His three-iron from 278 yards to 20ft gave him a tempting chance, but somehow his effort stayed above the ground meaning he shared second with Rahm.

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“Winning Shane softens the blow,” said McIlroy, who won this title eight years ago. “I had a hard time today. I didn’t hit my irons well. I was scrambling quite a bit, but I got the most out of my lap. I wish I had made a four out of 17 but other than that I did what I had to do to give myself a shot at turning 18 and that’s all you can ask for.

“If it had been someone else, I might not have been as comfortable with it as I am now. Seeing a friend win is always great. Shane had a secretly good year, even if the results might not suggest it, but playing with him at home you could tell.

“I think it’s as consistent as Shane has played throughout his career, which obviously bodes well for him going forward and for the European Ryder Cup team next year. It was a good day for golf.”