The Open: out of body experience and out of this world for Shane Lowry
Irish golfer lifts the Claret Jug in front of a raucous crowd at Royal Portrush
Shane Lowry became only the second player from the Republic of Ireland to win The Open as he overcome testing conditions at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush on Sunday.
The 32-year-old emulated Padraig Harrington, who lifted the famous Claret Jug in 2007 and 2008, and later quipped that his victory “feels like an out-of-body experience”.
The weather was unkind to Northern Ireland, hosting its first Open since 1951, and to most of the golfers on Sunday who struggled to cope with the wet and windy conditions.
There were indeed times when Lowry wobbled - he bogeyed four of the five holes from the ninth - but nonetheless the man from Offaly shot a one-over 72 to finish six shots clear of the field.
It was a wonderfully composed performance from a man who three years ago squandered a four-shot lead on the final day of the US Open.
Tommy Fleetwood, who was bidding to become the first Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992, finished second on nine under. Tony Finau of the United States carded a one-over-par 71 to finish third on seven under, his best finish at a major. Lee Westwood of England finished fourth.
“I can’t wait to wake up on Monday morning and find out what it’s going to feel like then - it’s just going to be incredible,” said Lowry, who was roared home by a raucous Portrush crowd.
“My mum and dad, they sacrificed so much for me when I was younger and I’m so happy I can hand them this trophy.”
Shane keeps his nerve
Lowry, who had teed off on Sunday defending a four-shot overnight lead, was only seriously challenged by Fleetwood but the Englishman couldn’t keep up a consistent pressure on his rival.
“I got off to a very shaky start,” admitted Lowry, who sank a six-foot putt to salvage a bogey at the first. “I didn’t feel great out there. It’s probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt on a golf course.
“You’re trying to win an Open in your home country, it’s incredibly difficult.”
What they’re saying about Lowry’s awesome Open
The Times: “It is easy to overstate the importance of sport but there is no doubt this Open… helps distance Northern Ireland sport from its political past and prove games can have a unifying effect for this island.”
Ireland President Michael D Higgins: “His success will have brought pride and joy not only to sports fans around Ireland but to the Irish everywhere.”
Paul McGinley: “Nobody played better or was more deserving to be the winner this week. Shane you lapped the field.”
Thomas Bjorn: “I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching The Open as much as this one.”
Sky Sports: “Lowry was a model of composure and consistency as he closed with three cast-iron pars, the last of which ignited noise levels rarely heard before at any Open Championship.”
Shane Lowry: “I said to my caddie [Brian Martin] walking down the last, ‘I can’t believe this is me, this is mine’. I’ve watched the Open since I was a little kid and to be named champion golfer of the year is just incredible.”