Shane Lowry Turns Pro

Newly crowned Irish Open champion Shane Lowry has announced he is turning pro and will be playing for money at next week's European Open.

The 22-year-old Irishman won a playoff in the Irish Open on Sunday in his first European Tour event, beating eight of the world's top 50 players at County Louth Golf Club in Balfray. His 10-under-par 62 in the second round tied for the lowest tour round ever shot by an amateur.

"I have now decided to turn professional immediately as I feel this will give me the greatest chance of becoming the best player I can be in the future," Lowry said.

Lowry's victory automatically gives him a two-year exemption on the European Tour. He became the third amateur to win a title on the circuit, following Spain's Pablo Martin and Danny Lee of New Zealand. Lee, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, won earlier this year.

Though Lowry is now a professional, the $691,000 top prize in the Irish Open went to runner-up Robert Rock, who lost to Lowry in the playoff.

Lowry had said earlier he might delay turning pro until after the Walker Cup against the United States in September. But, after talking to family and friends, he changed his mind.

"To go and win the tournament and leave Baltray on Sunday evening with the Irish Open trophy and the option of a two-year exemption on the European Tour was certainly beyond my expectations," Lowry said.

"My Irish Open win has provided me with a unique opportunity to ease myself into the professional game by playing in some of the biggest tournaments in Europe over the coming months, with a view to preparing myself for the 2010 European Tour season. I can now go out on tour under no pressure and just concentrate on playing golf and enjoying the whole experience."

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