One of the highlights of Shane Lowry's brilliant BMW PGA Championship win last weekend was the fact he won it after a fantastic duel with old friend Rory McIlroy.
Lowry and McIlroy shared an embrace and a joke in the aftermath of the final round, which saw Lowry win out by one stroke from his fellow Irishman.
The two's friendship has blossomed in recent years, and Lowry spoke to the No Laying Up podcast about it this week.
Lowry on McIlroy friendship
Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy had a battle for the ages on the final day at Wentworth, with Offaly man Lowry eventually winning out. It was another near miss in 2022 for McIlroy, who has played some wonderful golf while unluckily coming up short on several occasions. He was obviously disappointed after losing out, but McIlroy said after the tournament that the blow of losing was softened by Lowry being the winner.
For Lowry, it was a first tournament win since the Open in 2019, and he was in flying form during the celebrations.
He spoke to the No Laying Up podcast this week in the aftermath of his Wentworth win, and he was asked how his relationship with McIlroy had begun:
We played a bit of golf together when we were younger but Rory, even though he's younger than me, he's two years younger than me, he was always a step ahead of me when it came to golf.
If I was playing under 18s, he was playing under 20s, and he was always playing men's golf before I was. But then in 2007 we played on the same team and we won the European Championship, the team championships - which was a big deal.
He obviously turned pro after that, and I turned pro in 2009 and won the Irish Open. He was there, I played a practice round with him that week. I knew him very well - well, wouldn't have known him very well, but then we got on tour. I was playing mainly in Europe, he was playing mainly in America, so I wouldn't have seen him that much.
The two have played together more regularly in recent years and, just last summer, made up the Irish team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Lowry and McIlroy also played on the European team in last year's Ryder Cup, being paired together for the Friday fourball matches.
Lowry said on the NLU podcast that he and McIlroy have become closer the more they have played together, and that their families are also close.
Over the last few years, we've grown closer than we ever have been. I live ten minutes from him, our wives are very good friends, we've got kids of similar ages, so it has all worked out.
We do hang out a bit, we play practice rounds together, we see each other. I play quite a bit with him at the club. There's no doubt about it - I always say, if you want to become a better golfer, you've got to play golf with better players. It's definitely helped me over the years, playing golf with him - if you go out for a round on a Tuesday and you don't shoot -8 you're losing the money! It's one of those.
We definitely over the last four or five years have grown closer than we've ever been. It's great for me to have one of the best players in the world and one of the greatest players over the last ten years as one of my good friends and somebody I can talk to as well.
It's a privilege for Irish sports fans to have two golfers from the country operating at such a high level - the fact that Lowry and McIlroy are also great pals is a bonus.