‘One for the good guys’: Shane Lowry wins the BMW PGA to cap a wild week at Wentworth
Things were anything but ordinary this week at the BMW PGA Championship.
Lawsuits, barbs in the press, and geopolitics all had moments of topicality throughout the week at Wentworth, but on Sunday, the golf finally took center stage. And when the dust settled, Shane Lowry stood as the lone man atop the leaderboard.
“I’m so happy,” Lowry said. “I’m the happiest man in the world right now.”
Lowry’s sentiments were earnest and simple. It had been over three years since the Irishman had laid his hands on a trophy, and the drought was wearing on his psyche. But in a superb Sunday 65, Lowry quelled the negativity that crept into his head and bested a field of top players for a one-stroke victory.
Getting to Lowry’s moment of jubilation wasn’t quite so simple, though.
The inclusion of LIV golfers in the field started the week on a tense note. Before a shot was even struck at Wentworth, the storylines were spicy. A lawsuit in the UK allowed for LIV golfers to gain entry into the field, and those who’ve remained loyal to the DP World Tour were not so happy to see their old pals — Lowry included.
“There are certain guys that I just can’t stand being here, if I’m being honest,” Lowry said. “I don’t like it that they’re here. To be honest, the one thing that has really annoyed me over the last few months is how disruptive they’re all trying to be. I get that they’re here to get world ranking points and do that, but in a way I think they’re here for that and to be disruptive.”
Lowry was hardly the only loyalist to express his annoyance with the LIV golfers playing the BMW. Billy Horschel delivered an impassioned monologue calling the defectors “hypocrites” for showing up at Wentworth, while Jon Rahm called out LIV golfers for exploiting the DP World Tour for world ranking points. Rory McIlroy used his time with the press to poke fun at the LIV golfers in the field.
“I’ll be trying to win a golf tournament regardless,” he said. “They are going to be pretty tired on Sunday; it will be the fourth day.”
On Thursday, play finally commenced — and things only got more strange.
As play neared completion during the opening round, tragedy struck the UK when it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died at the age of 96. The loss of the monarch reverberated throughout the country, and golf quickly became an afterthought.
Out of respect for the fallen leader, officials elected to suspend play at Wentworth. The stoppage lasted through Friday as flags were lowered to half-mast and the country mourned the death of the Queen.
“She truly was an inspiration to people the world over,” the DP World Tour said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the Royal Family at this time.”
Although the shock of the Queen’s passing was still fresh in the minds of many associated with the tournament, officials decided to press on with their flagship event, albeit with a truncated, 54-hole format. Players returned to Wentworth Saturday morning.
Round 2 was dominated by Scandinavians as Søren Kjeldsen and Viktor Hovland rocketed to the top of the leaderboard. But it would be another crop of European stars that became the storyline on Sunday.
Lowry and McIlroy began the day within striking distance of the lead, but Rahm inserted himself into the conversation with a spirited back-nine charge. Thanks to five birdies and two eagles over his final nine holes, Rahm posted at 16-under to claim the clubhouse lead.
“I remember Alex Noren did it to me one year — the year he won, he went out early and shot 62,” Lowry said. “That came into my head … I just tried my best.”
On this day, Lowry’s best was just good enough. With an eagle and five birdies — including at the par-5 18th hole — the Irishman posted at 17-under. And when McIlroy’s final eagle putt slid past the hole on the 18th green some 15 minutes later, Lowry finally claimed the crown.
The circumstances surrounding the tournament made it all the more sweet.
“I made no secrets how I felt about this whole thing at the start of the week,” Lowry said. “I wanted to go out and win this tournament for myself first and foremost. But also for this tour and everyone who’s stayed loyal to this tour. I really feel like this is one for the good guys.”