Lowry breaks million euro barrier in Wales — €1.15m for 2014

Shane Lowry (pictured after round three) is maturing as a player in leaps and bounds. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Shane Lowry holed a four foot birdie putt at the last worth an extra €122,331 as he shared second behind Joost Luiten un the ISPS Handa Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort.

The Clara star, 27, was bitterly disappointed to shoot a closing 70 that left him a shot adrift of the Dutchman but tied with Tommy Fleetwood on 13 under par. 

But every cloud has a silver lining and a cheque for €195,831 helped Lowry break the million euro barrier for a season for the first time since he turned professional five  years ago.

In his 20 starts this term, the pride of Offaly has now earned €1,157,742 and is 14th in the Race to Dubai and projected to move into the world’s Top 55 today.

He needed to win move int that all-important Top-50 but having started the day two strokes behind Luiten, he missed too many fairways and had to rely on his putter to keep him in the hunt.

Had Luiten three-putted the last from more than 60 feet rather than two-putting brilliantly for a level par 71, Lowry might have forced a playoff.

But he admitted afterwards that while he was disappointed not to win his third tour title, he probably didn't deserve to deny Luiten a fourth European Tour victory.

“I suppose I look back and it was a decent week and I feel pretty good to be honest,” said Lowry, who will fancy his chances finally breaking into the Top 50 at the Home of Golf next week, where he will be bidding to improve on last year’s share of third behind David Howell. 

“But that's golf, and Joost hung in there well and he made a great par on 17 and a great par on the last, and fair play to him. He's a worthy winner.”

Lowry had just 27 putts on the final day and topped the putting charts for the week. But he was never quite in full control and after a bogey at the first and a birdie two at the third, he bogeyed the fifth and missed a five footer at the ninth to tie for the lead with Luiten, who had bogeyed the first two holes to go out in two over.

Lowry then endured a rollercoaster back nine, sandwiching a bogey at the 12th between birdies at the 11th and 13th. But Luiten played the first six holes on the back nine in two under to open a gap and survived a nervy last hole, two putting from long range for a one shot win over Lowry and Fleetwood (67) on 14 under.

“I didn't hole much,” Lowry said. “I think nine was a big putt for me, four or five feet for birdie to shoot level par on the front nine.

“I would have had a spring in my step going to the 10th tee but I just kept missing on the wrong side and not giving myself birdie chances. I'm a bit disappointed to be honest.”

Still, he was pleased to add an extra €122,000 to his bank balance by getting up and down for birdie at the last to break a six-way tie for third.

“Yeah, there was a big group tied third. Joost, if he left himself a 4-footer and the way the greens were this afternoon, would have been tricky. But he hit a great first putt, and I was just happy with birdie to finish second.

Joost Luiten with the ISPS Handa Wales Open trophy. Picture © Getty Images

“Joost was very close to The Ryder Cup team. He could easily be going to Gleneagles the way he's performed this year, but hopefully himself and myself will be on the next Ryder Cup Team.”

Luiten had a one-shot lead heading down the par five 18th hole, but sprayed his drive way right and, after hacking out of thick rough back onto the fairway, left his approach 60 feet from the flag. 

A sublime first putt, however, gave him a tap-in for a level par 71 and the €375,780 first prize.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood made a brilliant late charge, making four birdies and an eagle in the last five holes to take a share of second place as five players shared fourth place on 12 under, including home favourite Jamie Donaldson, who will make his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles, and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

“It was hard work down the last,” Luiten said. “I didn't have the start I wanted today with two bogeys to start with. The two shot-lead I had was wiped out and I knew it was going to be a tough day.

“I just tried to hang in there and wait for my chances, and made some nice birdies at the end and a good par down the last, luckily enough.

“You learn a lot from winning your own tournament (last year’s KLM Open). The pressure there is a little bit different from when you play in another country, and that makes it seem easier when you play somewhere else and you are more in the shadow of other guys. So it was a very important experience.”

Simon Thornton ran up a quadruple bogey nine at the last to card a 73 and finish tied 50th (€9,019) with Damien McGrane's 72 giving him €4,848 for a share of 65th.