Relieved Lowry secures starting place at Augusta Masters

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kevin@tullamoretribune.ie

A RELIEVED Shane Lowry did just enough to secure his starting place in the US Masters at Augusta last weekend.

Lowry needed to be in the world's top fifty on Monday to make the line up for the season's first major and one of golf's most treasured events – Monday's updated list saw him in 49th place, down one from the previous week.

He had stormed back into the world's top fifty when winning the Abu Dhabi Championship earlier in the season but some uncertain recent form left him hanging on in there.

However, he did enough to stay in there when competing in the World Golf Championship Dell Technologies Matchplay at Austin, Texas last weekend, even though he failed to qualify out of the group into the knockout stages.

It was a close run thing for Lowry, however, and he had to dig very deep to hang on in. Drawn in group 16 with Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Andrew Putman, Lowry sufered a 4 and 2 defeat by the Spanish mastero in his first outing. He did well to half with Patrick Reed in his second match on Thursday and then finished strongly on Friday with a 3 and 2 win over the American Putman and his place in the Masters was effectively secure – he needed those crucial points to be certain of staying in the top fifty.

Lowry's win in Abu Dhabi has him leading the European Tour's Race to Dubai list and it was a crucially important breakthrough for him after an inconsistent 2018 that culminated in him losing his US PGA Tour card. The win there and the privileges that go with a top fifty place opened up the big World Golf Championship events to him along with many more big tournaments in America and it has transformed his season.

The Clara professional is thrilled to have made Augusta, which starts on Thursday, April 11. The field now has 86 players and the only way for someone else to qualify is to win the Texas Open which concludes this Sunday in San Antonio.

It will be his fourth appearance in the Masters. He was there for three years in a row from 2015 to 2017, finishing 56th in 2015, a high of 39th in 2016 and 54th in 2017. He didn't make it last year and will now be hoping to mount a genuine challenge.

Overall, he was tied 24th in Texas last weekend and he earned €72,394, adding nicely to what has been a very financially rewarding year so far – he banked over €1 million for his big win in Abu Dhabi in January.

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry's home club, Esker Hills Golf Club have once again organised their big Esker Hills to Augusta competition. Competition takes place on the last three days of the Masters, April 12, 13 and 14 and there will be great excitement there at Lowry's bid for glory. The competition was held for the first time in 2015 to co-incide with Lowry's first appearance in the Masters.

It has proved to be hugely popular since then and the format, a singles stableford with players paired with a Masters competitor and their combined scores dictating the winners, has won a thumbs up from golfers.

The competition has attractive prizes and the entry fee is just €35, including lunch. Tee times are still available on the Friday and Sunday and can be booked by phoning 057 9355999 or 086 3423662.

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