Irish eyes smile upon Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry in Zurich Classic of New Orleans triumph

April 29, 2024

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry Round 4 highlights From Zurich Classic

When Martin Trainer missed his par-saving, playoff-extending putt late Sunday at TPC Louisiana, the Irish lads – you couldn’t really call them anything else, could you? – looked at each other and hugged. Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy had won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Lowry lifted McIlroy up in a colossal embrace, and the celebration was on.

The duo – friends for a quarter century, nearby homeowners in South Florida and weekly playdate pals with their young kids – turned things around Sunday after a tough start and walked away PGA TOUR winners, again.

“We went out there, we had loads of fun, and we won the tournament. You couldn’t ask for a better week,” Lowry said.

“To win any PGA TOUR event is very cool, but to do it with one of your closest friends … Think about where we met and where we’ve come from, to be on this stage and do this together – just awesome to be able to do it alongside this guy,” McIlroy added.

For McIlroy, it was his 25th TOUR title, his third in a tournament debut. He now has at least one win in seven consecutive PGA TOUR seasons. Lowry won for the first time on TOUR since the 2019 Open Championship, his third TOUR win overall.

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry news conference after winning Zurich Classic

McIlroy and Lowry were the expected champions, given the lack of proven winners around them on the leaderboard heading into Sunday. But no one could have predicted Trainer and Chad Ramey zipping 25 spots up the leaderboard in the final round after a format-tying 9-under 63. They were waiting around for upwards of three hours before finding out they would be in a playoff.

And even though McIlroy and Lowry were the favorites, that doesn’t mean the win was guaranteed.

Lowry said at breakfast Sunday they noticed how much the trees were whipping and yet, Ramey and Trainer shot “an unbelievable score.” Lowry and McIlroy were 1-over through six holes and needed to make something happen quickly – and that’s exactly what they did.

“To play the last 12 holes in 5-under I think was very, very good,” Lowry said. “It showed a lot about our character and how much we wanted to win this thing,”

Lowry is about two years older than McIlroy; the duo first represented Ireland at the 2007 European Amateur Team Championship. They were European Ryder Cup teammates in both Wisconsin and Rome. And they played together at the Olympics in 2021, something they’re hoping to do again this summer in Paris.

“I know to go back to Ireland with an Olympic medal would be like a dream,” Lowry said.

“I was in a seven-way playoff in Tokyo for a bronze medal, and I’ve never tried so hard to finish third in my life,” added McIlroy.

This was McIlroy’s fourth straight week of TOUR competition, and Lowry’s third straight. There were no signs of fatigue from either man late Sunday at TPC Louisiana, with McIlroy knocking his drive on the par-5 18th in regulation upwards of 350 yards. Lowry, with a laugh, said he wasn’t sure what to do from the position his partner had left him in.

Rory McIlroy’s clutch 72nd hole chip yields tying birdie at Zurich Classic

This wouldn’t be considered a breakthrough victory for either player, given their long-standing pedigree and solid starts to 2024 (Lowry had two top-five finishes in Florida, while McIlroy won on the DP World Tour earlier this year and finished third at the Valero Texas Open earlier this month), but their easy chemistry in Louisiana could be a harbinger of good things to come.

The fans in New Orleans, too, seemed to buoy the boys. There were chants of “Rory, Rory,” and there was a story relayed on the CBS broadcast of Lowry and McIlroy getting a standing ovation when they left dinner on Saturday night at Arnaud’s, a jazzy, 100-year-old fine-dining spot in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

“It’s not lost on me how cool that is. Every time I get to play in front of thousands of people, the little boy in me just thinks it’s so cool and so exciting,” McIlroy said. “The crowd really made the weekend.”

“Rory brings a crowd, and people love him. We’ve got a lot of love this week in New Orleans, and we’ve had just the best week,” added Lowry.

What now, though? It was a big week and a big win for some of the TOUR’s most affable players. For Lowry, he’s earned his way into the rest of the Signature Events on the 2024 schedule, and it’s “freed him up,” he said. For McIlroy, he had exited big events like THE PLAYERS and the Masters with a few more questions about his game and its overall direction. This week, though, McIlroy reflected on why he and Lowry, all those years ago back home, started playing golf – because it was fun.

“I think sort of reinjecting a little bit of that fun back into it in a week like this week – it can always help,” McIlroy said.

“Hopefully we can both kick on now,” Lowry said of good things to come. “It was great fun all week, everything about it was just brilliant.”