Shane Lowry was on top of the world in Akron last night and thanking his lucky stars for his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational win after a ricochet in the town they call Rubber City.
A dramatic final hole birdie, where his approach from the left rough at Firestone hit a tree near the green and finished up 11 feet away to set up a winning three, gave him the $1.57m pay day, a three year PGA Tour exemption and a jump of 29 spots to 19th in the world.
"It doesn't get any better than that, does it?" Lowry said. "To be honest, it hasn't sunk in yet. To beat those guys down the stretch on a golf course like this, probably one of the toughest golf courses, especially in this condition, with how firm it was this week, that we play all year.
"I said at the start of the week, I'd take eight under par, and I thought that might win. So to shoot 11 under par on this golf course just shows a lot about my game, that it's good enough to compete at any level.”
Earlier, he said: "It's fairly speciall to go out and do that against such a good field, shoot a bogey free 66 on a golf course like that" he said. "I know that will stand to me now for the rest of my career. Hopefully I have a long career ahead of me. I have a good exemption now in Europe and a good exemption on the PGA Tour as well. The future looks okay as of now.
"I did everything I needed to do to win today. I let myself get ahead of myself and see myself on the 18th green with the trophy. But tben I got back to business, hIt some hood shots, played nicely and managed to hole some good putts."
Lowry's rub of the green—his ball filtered through the branches and leaves to finish 11 feet from the stick when he was under pressure to make par and stay ahead of clubhouse leader Bubba Watson— was nothing the 28-year old Clara man didn't deserve.
"I made a great par on 17 and on 18 I am not going got lie, I was pretty nervous standing on the 18th tee," Lowry said. "I have watched this tournament a lot in the past and you stand on that 18th tee and it's very familiar. You stand there and think, this is what I am here for. This is why I came this week.
"I hit a poor enough tee shot to be honest. It was quite a long way left. One of the worst tee shots I've hit all week. But I was just going down there praying I could get it down there around the green. I got down and I had a pretty horrific lie. It was sitting down in a hole, almost like someone had stood on it. It was where the crowd was walking and I just said to Dermot I'd just try to hit sand wedge and get it down to the front of the green.
"I pulled it. It came out a but too low and it went into the tree."
Then, grinning, he added: "And the rest is history."
It is a huge win that brings to an end to nearly three years of near misses — 1,029 days or 2 years and nine months to be exact.
The bad luck and frustrating afternoons since he followed his 2009 Irish Open win as an amateur with his first as a pro in the Portugal Masters have simply piled up for Lowry and nowhere was his frustration more evident than in St Andrews just three weeks ago, where he took eight on the Road Hole in the first round and ended up missing the cut in an Open Championship he felt he might have challenged to win.
Given the display he put on in Akron — long, straight driving, great wedge play and brilliant putting—he was right to fancy his chances.
But now that he has removed a monkey from his back in terms of worrying about his US Tour card, his place in the world's Top 50 or getting that long overdue win, he can go about his business in peace for 24 hours—the USPGA hype starts tomorrow— and give his talent room to breath at last
"It's hard to believe," he said on Sky Sports. "You know, I played good today. I made the right decisions. I got a bit of luck as well, which is nice. It's great because I have been down on myself this year and things haven't been going my way."
On his birdie at the last he admitted he got "a nice bounce", adding: "I was just hoping to make par."
It's a great result too for all of Team Lowry, especially his management at Horizon Sports, his coach Neil Manchip, trainer Robbie Cannon and the rest of his back up squad.
That the win came just six days after his 22-year old brother Alan followed in his footsteps by winning the Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy last Monday just added to the feeling that this was destiny.
Lowry began the final round two shots off the pace set by overnight co-leaders Justin Rose and Jim Furyk, but he wiped out the deficit with birdies on the second and eighth holes.
He began his back nine with a super birdie on the 10th, slashing a sky high wedge from 100 yards to two feet after getting a free drop for line of sight.
Furyk went within a shot of Lowry when he sank his five foot birdie putt on the 11th, only to bogey the next and drop back to eight under.
Lowry maintained his two shot advantage with a superb par save from 20 feet on the 14th after finding a fairway bunker off the tee.
Lowry's lead was cut to one shot when Watson fired his sixth birdie of the day at the 17th to go to nine under par.
But he held his nerve, saving a superb par from over the back fo the 17th from and went 11 under par when he sank his 11-foot putt at the last to win his first WGC title.
Rose and Furyk finished in a share of third place on seven under, with Robert Streb one shot further back.