Mith victory in the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday evening at the Wentworth Club in Virginia Water, Shane Lowry not only fulfilled a long-cherished dream, especially since he had failed several times at one of his favorite courses in England. In his 13th appearance, the 35-year-old Irishman won the DP World Tour's flagship tournament for the first time, earning $1.36 million in prize money and first qualifying points for the Ryder Cup next year in Rome.
The triumph on the West Course of the noble facility near London, the first since his "home win" in 2019 at the British Open in Portrush (Northern Ireland), but had a completely different meaning for Lowry: "First and foremost I wanted to win this tournament for myself, but I think also for the tour and everyone who has remained loyal to this tour," said Lowry in the first winner's interview, "I really feel like this win is one for the good guys."
The "good guys", not only for Lowry, are all those who did not allow themselves to be lured to the LIV Golf series financed by Saudi Arabia for millions of euros. And what Lowry certainly appreciated as well: Second place was also shared with the Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and the Spaniard Jon Rahm, two colleagues who, like him, had always vehemently opposed the participation of 17 "Saudi golfers" in Wentworth in the run-up to the tournament.
It also doesn't matter to McIlroy that he's with four of the renegades, the English Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, were all part of the team that lost the last Ryder Cup to the United States team in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin: "I wouldn't say I'm at the moment I have a special relationship with them.” Because at Wentworth Club of all places, where the DP World Tour has its headquarters, these pros took advantage of the fact that the former European Tour, unlike the PGA Tour, does not exclude renegades from their tournaments.
The officials had informed the LIV golfers in a letter before the tournament that they were not welcome. They weren't allowed to play in the audition, the Celebrity ProAm, and nobody was assigned to one of the so-called "featured groups" whose players' every shot was televised. Martin Kaymerwho has meanwhile slipped down to 355th place in the world rankings and is only the eleventh best German in this ranking, therefore decided not to take part.
Even the American defending champion, Billy Horschel, caused a lot of trouble when his compatriot Talor Gooch, one of the first defectors to LIV Golf, took part. Because Gooch, who managed his only victory on the PGA Tour in November last year, took the opportunity that the DP World Tour let everyone who is in the top sixty in the world rankings play in their traditional tournament.
“He has never played in a tournament on the European Tour. He just wants to collect world ranking points here,” Horschel said angrily. Gooch succeeded. He ended up in fourth place with 201 shots and improved 14 places to 32nd in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). This jump was only a side note, however, because the victory was won by three Europeans who all play primarily on the American PGA Tour, but always return to their home tournament series.
Rahm, who started the final loop almost two and a half hours ahead of the leaders, six strokes down, set the mark early on for everyone else to beat. Not only did he set the course record with 62 strokes, he also managed a furioso final despite a bogey on the 15th hole. He played the last ten holes nine under par and ended the round spectacularly with his second eagle on the 18th hole. "I don't think that's enough to win," said the 27-year-old Basque. He should be right.
First Lowry (199/66+68+65/17 under par) overtook him before McIlroy missed the chance on the last hole to draw level with his childhood friend from the Irish amateur national team. His eagle putt from around seven meters fell on the edge of the hole. Still not a big problem for the crowd favourite, who is now also in second place in the world rankings thanks to second place (200/68+65+67).
Eight years ago he had won this traditional tournament by a stroke over Lowry, this time it was exactly the opposite. "You deserve it," he told his friend as he hugged him. McIlroy continued to extend his lead in the Race to Dubai and appears to be on track to, like England's Luke Donald in 2013, win the DP World Tour season standings after the PGA Tour's FedExCup.