McIlroy and Lowry turn drunken lunch into title

The PGA Tour sees Rory McIlroy back among its favorites

by Andrea Gussoni
McIlroy and Lowry turn drunken lunch into title
© Chris Graythen/Getty Image Sport

The PGA Tour sees Rory McIlroy back among its favorites. Not only has he affirmed his commitment to remain a permanent fixture on the golf circuit, but he also wouldn't mind returning to the players' committee. And he's winning again.

This time, he did it alongside fellow Irishman - from the south, though Ireland stands united in these matters - Shane Lowry at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, the tournament that shakes up the conventional format in the American spring.

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They clinched victory after prevailing in a sudden-death playoff against Americans Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer, whom they caught on the 18th hole of the final day with a birdie in the alternate shot format (foursomes).

It marked McIlroy's twenty-fifth star on the PGA Tour and Lowry's third, adding to the 39 titles in their professional careers. McIlroy and Lowry were the established pair. Major winners and Ryder Cup players, they had agreed last year "over lunch when we were very drunk after Rome" to team up in this tournament that Rory had never played before.

Some say Michael Jordan witnessed it, also invited to that table alongside captain Luke Donald. Trainer and Ramey, on the other hand, play the role of underdogs on the PGA Tour. They rank below the top 200 in the world rankings.

Each a winner of a second-tier tournament on the big stage, when the field narrowed down, they fell victim to a playoff. Trainer, recently claiming French nationality to potentially qualify for the Olympics through his mother's nationality, made headlines when it was questioned whether he was the first Frenchman to win on the PGA Tour instead of Mathieu Pavon, back in February.

The lesser-known duo showed bravery throughout Sunday in New Orleans. A fantastic final nine holes, featuring seven birdies, led them to a 63 in the alternate shot format, putting them in the clubhouse as leaders more than two hours before the leaders finished their rounds.

Only McIlroy and Lowry caught up, despite bogeying the 17th hole. In the playoff, the Irishmen found the fairway, while the other pair began the 18th from the rough and struggled from there. The time spent waiting cooled their trigger.

They bogeyed the par-5 hole. It was too much of an advantage for a pair who have known each other since childhood. "I couldn't have asked for a better week and to win with this man by my side," said McIlroy on CBS. "The people have been fantastic, and we've had a lot of fun."

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