Rory McIlroy sang “Journey” in New Orleans. He also won the golf tournament

NEW ORLEANS – Rory McIlroy stands on the nineteenth green stage at TPC Louisiana with a beer in a single hand and a microphone in the opposite. He has Mardi Gras beads around his neck, stands next to one in all his best friends, Shane Lowry, and the drunken crowd in New Orleans continues to sing.

“Do you know any songs from the 80s?” asks the bandleader.

And then Journey starts playing.

The four-time major champion belted out “Don't Stop Believing” early Sunday night, throwing his head back to bury his chest within the notes. Lowry just laughed and drank his beer as he watched his buddy make a idiot of himself. As he left a moment later, Lowry replied as to why he didn't take part: “I would have sung a lot better.”

McIlroy just won a golf tournament. And he needed to win a golf tournament. But he needed far, excess of anything on a scorecard this week. McIlroy needed to rejoice.

It all began with a “really drunk lunch” after her Ryder Cup win last fall. McIlroy asked Lowry if they may team up for the Zurich Classic – the PGA Tour's only team event. Lowry has attended this event before, but he never asked McIlroy to team up for fear of rejection. McIlroy sent Lowry an acknowledgment at Christmastime. He got here to New Orleans.

Fast forward to Saturday night: Just off Bourbon Street within the French Quarter, at a classic white-tablecloth Creole eatery called Arnaud's, McIlroy and Lowry received a standing ovation from the opposite diners. This isn't even a soothing weekend in Louisiana. It's Jazz Fest. It's NFL Draft week. The Pelicans are within the playoffs. Still, people were so excited to have the second-biggest player on the earth that they filled TPC Louisiana with the most important galleries conceivable and applauded them in restaurants. A television reporter joked that Reggie Bush was the last athlete to receive the award nearly 20 years ago.

“It was strange for me,” Lowry said. “That won’t happen to me.”

“That won’t happen to me either!” McIlroy joked.

“He’s getting old,” Lowry said with a cheeky grin. “But he can still move the needle a little bit. Rory attracts a lot of people and people love him.”

Somewhat context. McIlroy isn’t having a excellent season. Last week it became a running joke that Scottie Scheffler's caddie, Ted Scott, will surpass McIlroy in 2024. And McIlroy has had a stressful few years. He was the face of the PGA Tour in its war with LIV and essentially the most publicized board member. Then he was caught off guard when the PGA Tour entered right into a framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (the owners of LIV) and he described himself as a “sacrificial lamb” to talk to the media the following day.

He then reportedly lost an influence struggle over the long run of the Tour to Patrick Cantlay and decided to go away the board. As Sports Illustrated reported, Cantlay and others like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth focused more on catering to the tour's elites. McIlroy then modified his tune and advocated for a union with LIV. He angered people by publicly criticizing Spieth for saying the PGA Tour didn't “need” the Saudis. He repeatedly commented that the need for money was ruining the game. At the Players Championship he got into an unpleasant incident along with his playing partners Spieth and Viktor Hovland.

Oh, and the Golf suffered. Everything is relative. He's still in the highest 30 almost every week, but has only posted one PGA Tour finish higher than nineteenth all season. When he finished T22 on the Masters two weeks ago, he was asked if he needed to enhance his swing and do a full reset.

Then he went to New Orleans.

McIlroy wasn't locked up this week, a minimum of not for many of the week. This week was all about having fun along with his old buddy Shane. When they arrived on Tuesday, they didn't even practice because the sphere was too full, so that they messed around on the chipping green as a substitute. During Wednesday's Pro-Am, they barely played every other shot. They looked as if it would strike after they felt prefer it, as they walked and talked the remaining of the way in which. They crushed grilled oysters from Drago's on the tenth hole and teased one another.

Who knows how nervous they were after they entered the seventh hole on Sunday, fifth behind the leaders. Yes, they’re competitors and wish to win, but they simply went with the flow.

Then McIlroy got hot. Using an alternate shot, they birdied 4 of the following five holes to realize one back. McIlroy gave a cheeky little club spin that he hadn't shown off an ideal iron shot on 14 in years. And right around that point, he obviously began wanting it just a little more. When he took his drive right into a bunker on 16, he leaned over and kept his head down in frustration for a full minute.

But no worry. Lowry hit an ideal wedge from the bunker into the center of the green, and McIlroy hit an extended putt to grab a share of the lead.

On the par-3 seventeenth, Lowry's tee shot flew into the gang and he later missed a tough par putt. He was visibly upset with himself, but McIlroy quickly chased him off the green and said, “Hey, Shane. That was a good putt.”

“Rory is there this week supporting me,” Lowry said, “and he's been a great teammate and he's made me believe in myself. “It was good to have him there to do this.”

They then birdied 18 to send it to the playoffs, and thanks to a missed putt from Martin Trainer in the playoffs, McIlroy won his 25th PGA Tour tournament and Lowry secured a spot in the remaining PGA Tour signature events. Events. Cooperation.

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry chased Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer on Sunday on the Zurich Classic. (Stephen Lew/USA Today)

Yes, possibly McIlroy was the important thing to victory this week, but there's a probability Lowry was the important thing to a much-needed week for McIlroy. Because he admitted that this week was about escaping the stress.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The reason Shane and I both started playing golf is because at some point in our lives we thought it would be fun. I think it can always be helpful to bring some fun back into a week like this.”

And because the event got here to a detailed, tournament organizers might be seen celebrating the coup of one in all the sport's biggest stars, who had won and will come back next yr to defend his title. This isn't exactly one in all the larger events on the tour. They would kill for McIlroy on the sphere again. So he was asked, “Did anyone try to sell you after you returned?”

“I don’t think they need to try,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll be back.”

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