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bmw pga championship 2023

Lowry lights up Wentworth as golf shines on unprecedented weekend

Shane Lowry was a fitting BMW PGA Champion as the nation mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. George Cooper wraps up an extraordinary final day from Wentworth

 

Shane Lowry dramatically pipped Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm to win the BMW PGA Championship in an epic showdown at Wentworth as the nation mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth II.

A closing round 65 was enough to see the Irishman edge out his Ryder Cup allies by one, but with all eyes on Wentworth, golf ultimately delivered on an emotional and unprecedented weekend for everyone.

There were some who questioned the DP World Tour’s decision to carry on with the tournament, especially after football was postponed to respect the period of mourning. Others couldn’t resist poking ill-timed fun at the revised 54-hole format.

But while there was no right or wrong way to deal with proceedings, every fan I spoke to at Wentworth couldn’t have been more thankful that play did resume in Surrey – each one agreeing the action provided the perfect release to what has been a unprecedented few days for the nation.

“It’s a celebration,” commented one onlooker. “A proper show of respect.” And how the golf decorously delivered – although not before a fog delay allowed more poignant tributes to be paid to Her Majesty during another eerie morning at Wentworth.

Play eventually resumed, and quickly this tournament of unparalleled difference returned to familiarity. Rory McIlroy – as he so often has in recent months – was in contention and gravitating the fans in their masses.

Patrick Reed mounted the early charge, LIV Golf’s leading star posting a 9-under 63 to hold the brief clubhouse lead. As the American toppled in birdie after birdie, his welcome reception was ultimately telling of the Wentworth atmosphere – the turmoil troubling golf now insignificant on an emotional weekend for all. “We’re just here to watch some good golf,” the consensus on 18.

From then on, the European pack came chasing. Rahm posted a magnificent 62, which included five birdies and two eagles on the back nine. But, even at 16-under, his lead always looked gettable given the low scoring carnage on the West’s finishing holes. So it proved.

Lowry, on a mission all day, tied Rahm on the par 5 12th before a string of pars meant he needed a birdie on the final hole to gain the lead. McIlroy was hot on his heels at 15-under.

Left with 215 yards from the fairway, Lowry dialled in an iron to set up an eagle putt and put himself on the verge of victory. His effort came up short, but it was enough to mean his good friend McIlroy needed an eagle to force a playoff.

With all eyes on Rory, the Northern Irishman sent the gallery into hysteria after his 242-yard approach landed 23-feet away. But just as everyone at Wentworth was ready to erupt, McIlroy’s effort somehow stayed on the edge to give Lowry a dramatic victory.

“I’m the happiest man in the world right now.” Lowry said after the victory. “I can’t put into words how happy I am, how much it means to me, how much I love this Tour, how much I love this tournament.

“I really feel like this is one for the good guys!”

In the end, sport’s power to remedy, elate, and unite in times of hardship was exemplified at Wentworth. We felt it during the pandemic and this weekend it was encapsulated for an entirely different, unprecedented purpose.

“She [Queen Elizabeth II] was an extraordinary woman.” Lowry continued. “I was happy the golf went ahead because I felt like it needed to be a celebration of her life.”

Golf unquestionably delivered at the BMW PGA Championship. Wentworth, a fitting location. Lowry, a worthy champion.

George Cooper

George Cooper

A golf fanatic his entire life, George Cooper is NCG's man for all goings-on at the top level of the game, whether it's the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA or LIV Golf. He also looks after NCG's Twitter and Facebook accounts. George is a member of Woburn, but is not friends with Ian Poulter.

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