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2024 PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry Prevail at Zurich Classic

2024 PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry Prevail at Zurich Classic

Chemistry is key to success when it comes to team events, and it certainly showed in Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry’s pairing at the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which culminated on Sunday, April 28. McIlroy and Lowry go back a long way, from their days of growing up in Ireland to becoming present-day neighbours in South Florida. As the old friends sailed to victory at the event, TPC Louisiana was wrapped in an unmistakable Irish flavour.

The Zurich Classic’s format, alternating between Four-ball (Days 1 and 3) and Foursomes (Days 2 and 4), took nothing away from the seriousness associated with a regular PGA Tour event. The winning pair of Lowry and McIlroy took home USD 1.286 million each in a tournament that is worth USD 8.9 million.

The FedExCup points were a draw as well, and at the start of the week, Lowry and McIlroy told each other that the 400 points apiece would be theirs, and so it was after they prevailed over Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer on the first playoff hole, the 18th.

 

2024 Zurich Classic: How a close bond led to Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry’s victory

There are others who could talk of proximity and familial ties like the two sets of twins in the field, Parker and Pierceson Coody, and Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard, but the Lowry-McIlroy team is different, one that has been steeled by the test of time.

“We’ve got quite a bit of shared history,” McIlroy had told PGA Tour organisers at the start of the week, to which Lowry had quipped, “We feed off each other well. I like to think we’re good for each other on and off the course.”

Since their first appearance as a team at the 2007 European Amateur Championship, Lowry and McIlroy’s career graphs have followed different trajectories in world golf, but on-field success has had no bearing on the association.

McIlroy is a 25-time winner on the PGA Tour and a former World No 1 with three FedExCup titles. Lowry is a Major winner as well but with much fewer wins on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, where the two started their careers.

‘No’ to a yes

This dream team almost didn’t happen, though. And it wasn’t due to their varying levels of professional success. After all, the two have been friends for ages, with even their wives and children well-acquainted with each other. The two have also played together before, joining hands last year to help Europe win the Ryder Cup.

Lowry was keen to repeat this again with McIlroy at the 2024 Zurich Classic, which would have marked the latter’s debut at the event and Lowry’s fifth appearance there. However, McIlroy has a history of rejecting similar requests from other players, due to the tournament not fitting into his schedule.

So, Lowry never asked, and was was taken aback when McIlroy himself proposed the partnership during the Christmas season. “It was a nice little Christmas present for me to get,” admitted Lowry.

“He’s a great person to be around, and a really good influence on me. There’re parts of [Lowry] that I really love; I see how he lives his life; I see how he is with his girls, and the relationships he has with the people from home that are still close to him,” said McIlroy. “He enjoys his life and everything he’s worked for, and I think spending time with him makes me a better version of myself.”

Choosing chipping drills over the practice round and more, the week was built on mirth, and that’s the way it ended, given the images on the 18th green on completion of the playoff.

There were generous doses of serious golf, especially on the final day when Lowry and McIlroy, after being joint leaders for 36 holes, started Sunday two shots back of overnight leaders Zac Blair and Patrick Fishburn. Then, they had to face the frenzied pace of Ramey and Trainer as they tied the 18-hole record in the Foursomes format with a 9-under 63.

At 25-under 263, the onus was on McIlroy to force the playoff at the 18th tee box. Lowry summed the ensuing birdie. “I enjoyed every minute of it, like having this man by my side. You saw the drive he hit up the 18th, the 72nd hole. When you’ve got him doing that, it’s pretty easy to play golf from there for me.”

Stepping up differently

McIlroy’s status on the PGA Tour has few parallels, but for Lowry, triumphing in the playoff opened up gateways as he now has a ticket to the season’s remaining three Signature events.

“I wasn’t going to be in Quail Hollow (The Travelers Championship). I was hoping to get an invite for the Memorial, and the Travelers I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I knew I needed to make up some FedExCup points, and this gets me in those, and it means I can plan my schedule now. With family stuff and my wife and kids going back to Ireland in the summer, it means I really don’t have to stay over here and grind it out too long. It’s freed me up a lot this summer. Hopefully, we can both kick on now. [McIlroy and I have] got three Majors left. Hopefully we can get one each, or maybe two and one,” said Lowry.

If one were to pit his career graph with recent finishes, the win was a step-up for McIlroy as well. His last win came last year at the Genesis Scottish Open in July, and the start to the 2024 season — just one top-5 in eight starts before New Orleans had led him to address questions on the need to reassess his game.

Sitting in the interview room as a winner once more, McIlroy spoke like a man who seemed to be in control. Stiffer tests like ahead but a key may have been found to ward off the pressure of expectations from himself and outside.

“The reason Shane and I both started to play golf is because we thought it was fun at some stage in our life. I think sort of re-injecting a little bit of that fun back into it in a week like this can always help,” said McIlroy.

David vs Goliath

Sunday also saw a David and Goliath-esque showdown of sorts, as the hungry duo of Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer charged up the leaderboard to challenge the leading team of McIlroy and Lowry.

2024 zurich classic
Chad Ramey of the United States and Martin Trainer of France speak on the 18th green during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 28, 2024 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Image: Jonathan Bachman/ Getty Images)

Compared to the Irishmen’s rich title record, Ramey and Trainer have a win each on the PGA Tour, and those weeks now seem a speck on the horizon given the time lapse.

Since his win at the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship, Ramey hadn’t featured prominently in 76 starts, while the wait was longer for Trainer. Winner of the 2019 Puerto Rico Open, he used up 136 starts waiting for a strong finish.

The eagerness was understandable, and the duo did what was needed to challenge the doyens from Ireland. Tying both the 18-hole record in Foursomes with a 9-under 63, and the back-nine record with a 6-under 30, Trainer and Remy finished long before the leader groups.

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They waited for three hours, watching the ups and downs on the leaderboard, before getting to know the contestants as Lowry and McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to take it into a playoff.

Ramey and Trainer had proved themselves, but playoffs are all about experience and holding nerve. The Irishmen scored here, revisiting a moment that’s unfolded many times in their career.

Trainer’s inability to convert the six-footer for par to extend the playoff signalled the end to their heroic march.

As Trainer put it, “Golf can be hard, sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but it was important to look at the bigger picture and put it in perspective.

“There’re a lot of really good things to take from this week, and that’s what I’m going to do. Solo second finish in the end is still pretty good,” said Ramey.

From T9 here last year to sole second, the finish does a world of good to Trainer and Remy’s FedExCup rankings, and sets them up for next week’s CJ Cup Byron Nelson.

(Main image: Chris Graythen/ Getty Images; Featured image: Zurich Classic)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– What is the format of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans?
Since moving to the team format in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans follows the Four-ball and Foursomes format. The first and third rounds are Four-ball, and the second and final rounds are Foursomes.

– Who won the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans?
Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry won at TPC Louisiana for the top prize of USD 1.286 million each out of a total prize purse of USD 8.9 million. The Irish duo also collected 400 FedExCup points each.

– What is special about Rory McIlroy’s win at Zurich Classic of New Orleans?

Making his tournament debut, McIlroy notched his third win on the PGA Tour in a maiden appearance. His other wins were at the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship and 2019 RBC Canadian Open across a career that has seen him win 25 times on Tour.



Source: Prestige Online

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