Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry win Zurich Classic in playoff

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry celebrate at the Zurich Classic.

McIlroy and Lowry won the Zurich Classic in a playoff.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Over the first four months of the 2024 season, commentators have lamented the lack of big-name winners on the PGA Tour. 

On Sunday at TPC Louisiana, though, the opposite occurred as the two brightest stars in a low-wattage field claimed victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. You’ve heard of them, right?

With a ho-hum par on the first playoff hole, they took the title over Martin Trainer and Chad Ramey, who had been waiting around for nearly three hours to see if the 63 they’d teamed up to shoot would be good enough for sudden death.

“Absolutely amazing, ” McIlroy said. “The crowds all week have been absolutely amazing. To get the support we’ve had out there and to have so much fun while doing it, it’s been an awesome week, and obviously I feel like it’s just a bonus to win in the end.”

It’s a tumultuous time in progressional golf, and this has been a tough year for the PGA Tour, marked by flagging TV viewership and less-than-folkloric Sunday finishes. Before Scottie Scheffler began his torrid stretch of play with a victory at Bay Hill, in March, four first-timer winners had prevailed in the first nine events of the season.

As the final round got underway in Louisiana, the team-format Zurich Classic seemed poised to deliver more of the same. The leaderboard was not exactly Hall of Fame. On the strength of a Saturday best ball 65, Zac Blair and Patrick Fishburn, childhood pals from Utah and fellow BYU alums with a total of zero Tour career wins between them, were the front runners at 23-under, followed by pairings that included Luke List and Henrik Norlander, Mark Hubbard and Ryan Brehm, and Nico Echavarria and Max Greyserman.

The outliers near the top were McIlroy and Lowry, in a tie for third at 21-under. This was McIlroy’s first appearance at the Zurich, an event that he and Lowry decided they should play in after a “drunken lunch” celebrating their victory with Team Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup. Longtime pals from Northern Ireland, the two men dressed like twins all week in New Orleans, wearing matching outfits, and, often, matching grins. 

Rory McIlroy smiles at TPC Lousiana.
TV analysts rip Rory McIlroy for decision. He made birdie anyway
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They had a lot to smile about during Sunday’s round of alternate-shot play, as McIlroy took advantage of his massive lengths to cut par 5s down to size while leaving his partner within pitching distance on several par 4s. 

As the day wore on, the wheat separated itself from the chaff.

After hanging tough on the front nine, Blair and Fishburn made double-bogeys on both par-3s on the back side to dash their chances. Other contenders either stalled or fell back.

The exceptions were Trainer and Ramey, who fired an early-day 63, an alternate-shot course record at the Zurich, to claim the clubhouse lead at 25-under, and then were forced to play the waiting game.

Nearly three hours later, after Mcllroy bombed a drive to set up a closing birdie for his team on the par 5 18th, the playoff began on the same hole.

It was over almost as soon as it started, as Ramey and Trainer scuffed their way toward bogey with a sequence of pulled shots and a flubbed chip, and McIlroy and Lowry made routine par. 

Spectacular? No. But enough to earn a rousing ovation from the crowd, much as the pair had received a standing ovation while dining in a famous New Orleans restaurant the night before.

“I’ve never been here before,” McIlroy said. “Shane has been here a handful of times, and we’ve gone out for some really nice dinners, and people could not have been more hospitable or nicer during the week.”

It helps when they recognize the winners, too.

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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