In the end it was a birdie putt, set up by a beautiful 3-wood approach, that sealed a one shot victory for Shane Lowry at the Abu Dhabi Championship, but not before a roller coaster round where he just had to keep going.
Starting the round with a one stroke lead, Lowry fell back so that at one point he was four shots back with seven to play. He came up against a brilliant front nine from South African Richard Sterne who birdied four of the first five holes.
However, Lowry was to rally brilliantly on the back nine as his opponent faltered with the finishing line in sight.
Lowry whittled the lead down gradually with birdies on 12 and 13. The pressure now ratcheted up on his opponent and this told on the 14th hole when Sterne missed a short putt for par, reducing his lead to a single stroke.
The pair were level after the 16th with Sterne paying the penalty for a poor third shot from the greenside bunker which left him on the fringe of the green. Lowry, for his part, showcased his growing confidence and mental strength with an excellent two-putt from 60 feet. And on 18 he lagged an eagle putt and made birdie to win by one shot.
He said “I didn’t think I had it in me, how hard I fought”.
It is Lowry’s fourth win and his first since winning the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational in America in 2015. He had dropped to 74th in the world but is now within the top fifty, with hopefully an invitation to compete at Augusta. His goal though is to make his friend Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team in 2020. He wins over a million Euros and got to wear a nice dress to have his picture taken in.