Shane Lowry declared himself “the happiest man in the world” after winning a curtailed PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday, and it’s probably safe to assume that DP World Tour chiefs were delighted with the outcome too.
Lowry’s first title since hoisting the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush three years ago was a personal triumph to savour for the Irishman, especially after the possibility of a three-man play-off with Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy looked a distinct possibility down the stretch.
But it was also exactly the sort of finish that the European circuit would have wanted, showcasing as it did the very best that it has to offer and striking back the golfing establishment’s battle with the breakaway LIV Golf series.
The DP World Tour’s flagship event had taken on even greater symbolic importance in the lead-up to the tournament amid a row over the involvement of players allied to LIV, such as England’s Lee Westwood and American Patrick Reed.
Tour chiefs were powerless to prevent LIV players with suitable exemptions from taking part but did seek to minimise any attention on them through tee times and less prominence in broadcast coverage.
Reed, who has long been a pantomime villain to European golf fans thanks to his Captain America Ryder Cup persona, threatened to play the ultimate party pooper when he set the clubhouse lead of 14 under par with a final round of 63.
Fellow LIV sign-up Westwood was threatening to make a charge, while another, Talor Gooch, was also creeping up the leaderboard.
Rahm, who had been among the most outspoken critics of LIV players taking part in the PGA Championship, soon ended Reed’s hopes with a 62 that featured two eagles and five birdies on the back nine and put him out in front on 16 under.
Having begun the day just one shot behind overnight leader Viktor Hovland and made up ground with an eagle at the par-five fourth, McIlroy then stuttered with a bogey at the eighth.
Lowry, playing in the group in front, was four under on the front nine and drew level with Rahm when he birdied the 12th. He parred the next five holes, though, allowing McIlroy to claw his way to within one shot of the lead again.
But after McIlroy two-putted for par at 17, Lowry went two ahead with a birdie at the last and his erstwhile Ryder Cup colleague left an eagle putt that would have forced a play-off teetering on the lip of the hole.
“I’m so happy,” said Lowry. “Honestly words can’t [describe] how happy I am, how much this means to me and how much I love this tour and how much I love this tournament. I’m the happiest man in the world right now.”
McIlroy’s consolation is taking pole position in the Race to Dubai, setting him up for European-US double after winning the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup last month.