Lowry rises to career high 55th in world

Shane Lowry could end the year as world No 51Shane Lowry is up to a career high of 55th in the Official World Golf Ranking and could end the year an agonising 51st.

The Clara native, who won his first title as a professional at the Portugal Masters in October, rose one place in the latest list as Padraig Harrington fell two spots to 61st. 

Lowry will not play again until January but given that he has a divisor of just 50 he could rise as high as 51st in the world by December 31 - leaving him just outside the magical top 50 who wil earn automatic invitations for next April’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

Rory McIlroy extended his lead over Luke Donald at the top of the latest rankings to 4.68 points while Graeme McDowell remained at 14th following the Australian Open, the Thailand Golf Open and the 36-hole Nelson Mandela Championship on the European Tour.

Peter Senior leapt 451 places from 629th to 178th following his second Emirates Australian Open win at the age of 53 - the oldest winner in the history of the event and five years older than Miguel Angel Jimenez when he broke Des Smyth’s European Tour age record in Hong Kong recently.

Meanwhile, Charl Schwartzel moved up four places to 23rd thanks to his runaway,11-shot win in Thailand where Darren Clarke’s 22nd place finish saw him fall one place to world No 140 - a drop of 92 places this year and 110 since he won the 2011 Open.

In South African, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson rose 52 spots to world No 115 thanks to his maiden European Tour victory in the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.

Jamieson, 29, held off England’s Steve Webster and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva in a play-off after the event was reduced to a 36-hole sprint after heavy rain washed out the first two days.

Jamieson’s blistering (eight under) 57 on the shortened Royal Durban layout proved good enough for a share of top spot on seven under par once all 156 players had finished.

Peter Lawrie finished six shots off the pace in joint 39th on one under with Damien McGrane tied for 54th on level par.

McGrane and Lawrie will end 2012 alongside world No 138 Michael Hoey in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek while Clarke has travelled from Thailand to Australia to conclude his year in the AU $1.25m Australian PGA Championship at the Palmer Coolum Resort in Queensland

According to the Herald Sun:

The 2012 Australian PGA field lacks the depth of last year’s tournament, which directly followed the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and boasted arguably the best ever line-up in the event’s history. But it does not lack for quality.

The 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke, Australian golf great Greg Norman and a host of the country’s finest players including (Robert) Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Peter Lonard, Robert Allenby and South African Rory Sabbatini headline the field vying for the Kirkwood Cup.

Chalmers will be defending the title he won in dramatic circumstances last year when he beat Allenby and Marcus Fraser in a playoff, just weeks after he claimed the Australian Open crown.