DUBLIN(AP) Shane Lowry, who won last week's Irish Open as an amateur turned pro Thursday and will be playing for money at next week's European Open.
The burly 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. His 10-under 62 in his second round tied the lowest tour round for 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 at County Louth automatically gave him a two-year exemption to the European Tour and he became the third amateur to win a title on the circuit, following Spain's Pablo Martin and Danny Lee of New Zealand. But the top prize of $691,000 went to runner-up Robert Rock, who lost the playoff.
Lowry initially indicated he might hold off turning pro until after the Walker Cup match 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.''