Irish Open champ Shane Lowry turns pro

May 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM

DUBLIN, Ireland, May 21 (UPI) -- Shane Lowry, who last week became the third amateur to win a European PGA Tour event, on Thursday officially turned professional.

Lowry won the Irish Open, taking the title on the third sudden-death playoff hole. The allowed him to jump 10 spots to the No. 6 ranking among the world amateur golfers. While that amateur status kept him from collecting the Irish Open's $691,000 first-place check, he was given a two-year exemption on tournament entries.

"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," Lowry said in a statement. "I can now go out on tour under no pressure and just concentrate on playing golf and enjoying the whole experience."

He is expected to play in next week's European Open in England.

Lowry, 22, said he had planned to turn professional after the Walker Cup in September but winning the Irish Open changed that plan.

In addition to the Irish Open, Lowry has won the Irish Amateur Close Championship in 2007 and the West of Ireland Championship, North of Ireland Championship and Mullingar Scratch Cup in 2008.

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