May 22nd, 2024

McIlroy, Lowry rally to win Zurich Classic team event in a playoff

By Brett Martel, The Associated Press on April 28, 2024.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event Sunday, beating Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

Trainer pushed a six-foot par putt to the right of the cup to end it, with Lowry and McIlroy sharing a smiling embrace on the green.

The 34-year-old McIlroy, playing in the event for the first time, won his 25th PGA Tour title and first of the season. Lowry claimed his third PGA Tour victory.

The Irish tandem closed with a 4-under 68 in the alternate-shot final round to match Ramey and Trainer at 25-under 263.

Ramey and Trainer began the day tied for 27th at 16 under and shot to the top of the leaderboard with nine birdies between the seventh and 18th holes. They tied the alternate-shot tournament record of 63, but then had to wait nearly three hours to see if their lead would stand up.

They struggled to execute on the playoff hole. Trainer pulled his drive into the left rough, Ramey also yanked his approach left off the cart path and into the wall below the suites around the 18th green. Trainer then chipped short before Ramey finally got his team on the green.

Lowry narrowly missed his mark twice on the playoff hole, putting an approach in a bunker and then leaving a birdie putt for the victory on the edge of the cup.

But Lowry came through when he had to on the 18th, forcing the playoff with a short birdie putt on the par-5 hole, capitalizing on McIlroy’s deft lofted chip from the apron that stopped close to the pin.

Ryan Brehm and Mark Hubbard were nearly in the playoff as well. Needing a birdie, they went long off the 18th green on their second shot. Hubbard’s chip up the back apron stopped short on the fringe, but Brehm still nearly sank a birdie putt from there, leaving the ball near the right edge of the cup as the crowd gasped. They finished third at 24 under.

Former BYU teammates Patrick Fishburn and Zach Blair, the leaders after three rounds, were still tied for the lead heading to 17, only to make a double bogey after Blair’s tee shot landed right of the green and Fishburn chipped short. They wound up in a four-way tie for fourth at 23 under.

Defending champions Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin, both of Abbotsford, B.C., finished 10th after their final-round 71 left them at 21 under. Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished tied for 11th at 20 under.

McIlroy and Lowry began the day two shots off the lead and bogeyed two of their first three holes before beginning the charge on the seventh, where McIlroy made the first of four birdie putts over the next five holes.

McIlroy had two mis-hits down the stretch that could have been costly, leaving an approach shot well short of the green on the par-4 13th and hitting short into a fairway bunker on the short par-4 16th.

Lowry chipped to about 10 feet and McIlroy saved par on 13. On 16, Lowry found the left side of the green with his approach shot from the sand and McIlroy sank a right-breaking birdie putt to lift his team into a tie for first at 25-under.

But the Irishmen bogeyed 17 after Lowry’s faded tee shot landed in the gallery right of the green and McIlroy’s chip over the ridge of a bunker ran well past the hole.

That meant they would have to have a birdie on 18 to force a playoff. They got it, starting with McIlroy’s booming tee shot into the water-lined fairway.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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