At one point on Sunday, while flying through the back nine, Shane Lowry turned to his caddie and wondered out loud whether something very special was brewing.
The Irishman teed off 90 minutes before the leaders but was back in the clubhouse right amongst them, having carded a 63 to leave him on 18-under par for the tournament.
One late Jon Rahm birdie denied him a crack at a play-off and a fourth-ever European Tour victory – though a 600,000 euro cheque, tying for second with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, made for a worthwhile consolation prize.
“That’s as good as I can play out there and to do it on the last day of the season is nice. I go away wishing I could have had a few more events, but that’s the way it is. I’m happy,” said the world No85.
“I actually felt in the hunt with a few holes to go. I said to (caddie) Dermot on the 15th that stranger things have happened, and if we can have a really hot finish here, you never know. I almost did. I had great chances on 16 and 17 but played them nicely, and under pressure too.”
Lowry has racked up the air miles between the PGA and European tours this season but is hoping a permanent American base can help kick-start his 2018 – and vault him into the Ryder Cup reckoning.
“I’ve played in America and I’ve played here and found it tough going back and forth,” Lowry admitted. “I felt really comfortable the last few months playing in Europe. I’m heading off to America in January again but we’re moving there this time so it should be a little easier next time, and I’m looking forward to that. This is going to give me loads of confidence going into my winter break.
“There’s only eight Ryder Cup spots up for grabs. The way I’m doing my schedule I’ve only got four spots to aim for really, so I’m up against it. But I’m going to do my best, I feel I’m good enough to be on the team so I just have to go ahead and make it.”
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