Shane Lowry claimed the first major win of his career when giving Ireland a dream victory in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
While all the pre-tournament focus had been on Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy ahead of the first Open to take place at Royal Portrush for 68 years, it was Lowry—from across the border in the Republic of Ireland—who provided the “home” win.
It was a dominant and hugely popular success too as 32-year-old Lowry lifted the famous Claret Jug following a six-shot victory over Tommy Fleetwood at the end of a rain-affected final day on the Dunluce links.
Lowry had led by four shots heading into the final day, the tee times for which were brought forward due to adverse weather conditions, and held his nerve in the type of tricky conditions which had been missing from the opening three days.
Lowry was afforded a raucous walk down the 18th after finding the fringe of the putting surface with his approach, and a two putt was greeted with the loudest cheer of the entire week, surpassing that which Darren Clarke got when hitting the first shot of the 148th Open Championship.
It was a one-over par final round and 15-under total for Lowry, who said: “This feels like an out-of-body experience. 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.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 21, 2019
It was a huge turnaround in fortunes for Lowry, who 12 months earlier had been left contemplating his future after missing his fourth successive cut in the Open.
Lowry added: “Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner. I sat in the car park in Carnoustie, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. Golf wasn’t my friend at the time. It was something that become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes.”
Can't say enough about the tremendous support from the fans @TheOpen.
It definitely brings a smile to my face. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. ☘️pic.twitter.com/bjDP06XbKo
— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) July 20, 2019
Fleetwood finished runner-up in a major for the second time in his career after early birdie chances slipped by as the Englishman was unable to put any pressure on Lowry. His nine-under total was enough for second by two shots from Tony Finau.
Lee Westwood and Brooks Koepka ended on six under, while a cluster of players on five-under included former Masters champion Danny Willett, Robert McIntyre, Rickie Fowler and Tyrell Hatton. Defending champion Francesco Molinari, meanwhile, ended on three-under par after a final round five-under par 66 in the best of the weather conditions.
The weekend action, however, was missing two of the biggest names as McIlroy and Tiger Woods were among those to miss the cut at Royal Portrush.
Woods looked to be struggling with a back injury and was never comfortable in his bid to win a 16th career major.
But it was nerves that got the better of McIlroy on what was his home course, the four-time major winner starting his opening round with a quadruple bogey eight and ending it with a triple bogey seven.
In the end, McIlroy missed the cut by one shot—that being a tap in he somehow failed to hole during his opening day meltdown. It was little surprise he was so emotional to miss out on the weekend action… but Ireland got the winner it so dearly wanted.