Shane Lowry’s breakout season, which was highlighted by a stunning victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, has earned the 28-year-old Offalyman the accolade of “Professional of the Year” in the 2015 Irish Golf Writers’ Awards, sponsored by Carr Golf.
In a year in which he rose from 44th in the official world rankings up to a year-ending position of 21st, Lowry’s performance in securing a win in the Bridgestone at Akron in August – along with top-10 finishes in the US Open and the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship tournament – resulted in him finishing a career-best fifth on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
This is Lowry’s first “professional of the year” honour from the IGWA, having previously earned “amateur of the year” honours in 2008 and 2009.
Lowry along with the other award winners Leona Maguire (Women’s Amateur of the Year), Paul Dunne (Men’s Amateur of the Year), and Claire Dowling (Distinguished Services to Golf) will receive their accolades at the IGWA Awards, sponsored by Carr Golf, which take place in Castleknock Golf Club on January 21, 2016.
Maguire, the number one amateur in the women’s world rankings, enjoyed a stellar campaign on the US collegiate circuit and also finished runner-up in the ISPS Handa European Masters on the Ladies European Tour.
The 21-year-old from Co Cavan, a student at Duke University in North Carolina, won three tournaments in her freshman year on the NCAA calendar – the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, ACC Championship and the NCAA South Bend regional – and was the recipient of the ANNIKA Award and named the WGCA National Player of the Year. Maguire added a fourth collegiate title when winning the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational in October.
Dunne – who graduated from University of Alabama-Birmingham with a degree in Business Finance – led into the final round of the Open Championship at St Andrews and was a quarter-finalist in the US Amateur championship, when he was beaten by eventual champion Bryson DeChambeau. The 23-year-old from Greystones, Co Wicklow, also had the distinction of claiming the winning point in Great Britain and Ireland’s success over the United States in the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham , which was his final action as an amateur.
The recipient of the “Distinguished Services” award is Claire Dowling (nee Hourihane). As a member of Woodbrook, Claire won the 1986 Ladies British Amateur Open Strokeplay Champion, won the Irish Ladies Close on five occasions and was a member of four Curtis Cup teams. Claire was among the first wave of five women from Great Britain and Ireland to become members of the R&A earlier this year after the club ended its 260-year ban on women members.