More than three years after claiming the Irish Open as an amateur in his first European Tour start, Shane Lowry recorded the best finish of his professional career when he closed with a six under 66 to finish tied for second behind Bernd Wiesberger in Austria.
Lowry was tied for seventh and six strokes behind Dane Thorbjorn Olesen with a round to play in the Open Lyoness at Diamond Country Club.
But following two bogeys in his first five holes, the 25-year old Offaly man went on the charge and played his last 13 holes in a sensational eight under par to finish on 16 under and share second place with Thomas Levet of France, three shots behind the winner.
It was Lowry’s best finish as a professional and while it was not his most lucrative week - he’s had four six figure paydays in his career so far - a cheque for €86,855 moved him up to 62nd in the Race to Dubai standings.
“Absolutely love the buzz of being in the hunt coming down the stretch in the final round,” Lowry tweeted following the first top three finish “Not to be today but happy with my performance.”
A win would have catapulted Lowry close to the world’ top 100 and earned him a place in the US PGA in two weeks. Instead, it’s Wiesberger who will be teeing it up at Kiawah Island.
“Congrats to @BWiesberger on his win today,” Lowry added. “What a win especially in his home tournament. Always puts added pressure on.”
Wiesberber, 26, became the second Austrian to triumph on home soil when he covered his last 10 holes in seven under par and came home in 30 blows thanks to a dramatic 50 foot birdie bomb at the 18th.
The Austrian hauled in overnight leader Olesen and Frenchman Levet with four birdies in five holes around the turn, then hit the front with consecutive gains at the 15th and 16th before sealing his second European Tour win with that spectacular putt at the last.
It made him just the second Austrian to win his national Open - Markus Brier did it in 2006 - and came just three months after his first European Tour victory at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.
“It’s the best day of my life so far,” said Wiesberger, who hit a tree and rebounded into the fairway late in his round and made par to remain in front. “It seems like it went my way, especially the last two holes.
“I had such a great country and such great fans backing me. I’m very proud to be following in such big footsteps. I’m sure I’m not going to be the last home winner.”
Olesen started the day with a three shot advantage and extended it to four with a birdie at the third.
But as the Dane parred his next ten holes he was caught first by Levet and then Wiesberger, who after a quiet start to his final round almost holed his tee shot on the par three ninth, sunk a 12 footer at ten, a 15 footer at the 12th and pitched to two feet on the 13th.
Olesen missed the green at the 14th and had his first bogey for 35 holes, allowing Wiesberger to hit the front with a five foot putt at the 15th, before leaving himself half that distance for birdie at the next.
If there were any doubts about whose day it was they vanished at the 17th - Wiesberger’s mis-hit tee shot clattering into a tree and bouncing into short semi-rough to leave him an angle to the green.
He took advantage with a par their before his spectacular finish, while Olesen faded to fifth with two closing bogeys.
Levet dropped a shot at the 17th that allowed Lowry to sneak into a share of second and wonder what might have been had he not called a shot on himself on the sixth hole in Wednesday’s first round.
The Clara man eagled the par-five sixth and then birdied the seventh and eighth to make a positive move up the leaderboard.
Three straight pars were not what he needed but while he birdied the 12th and 13th to get to within four of Olesen and then applied some pressure with birdies at the 16th and 17th, Wiesberger was simply too hot to handle.
Damien McGrane bogeyed three of his last six holes for a 74 to turn a potential top 10 into a share of 26th on six under while David Higgins added a 75 to his third round 74 to end up a disappointing tied 53rd.