Shane Lowry beats bad omens and bad weather to become Irish hero with Open success


The Open’s return to these parts after a 68-year intermission delivered a fitting champion – the fifth from the island of Ireland – amid remarkable scenes after a final round procession.

With the crowd swarming onto the fairway behind him, Lowry arrived as a conquering king at the 18th green to choruses of ‘Shay-no’ and ‘Ole, ole, ole’.

As the last putt dropped he embraced his caddie ‘Bo’ Martin, from Belfast, his wife Wendy, his little girl Iris and his parents before an especially long cuddle with the man he saw off in the final group, Tommy Fleetwood.

It ended with more of a squelch than a bang as the rain thundered down on the static caravan roofs and the wind turbines on the surrounding hills spun crazily.

But for the man from County Offaly it was water off a duck’s back.

The Irish know how to play in rain and wind – the Emerald Isle is not green by accident – and with a four-shot cushion to defend in the final round Lowry kept the rest of the floundering challengers at bay with ease to close out his first Major.

Three years ago he was presented with the same scenario at the US Open and his nerve failed him. Today, willed on by the sodden spectators, he was well and truly up to it.

There was an early wobble came at the first as he nervously hooked his drive into the left rough and bogeyed from the greenside bunker.

If Fleetwood had been able to take a presentable birdie chance Lowry’s four-shot overnight lead would have been halved but the Englishman could not take the chance. It was the story of his day.

He was playing against a nation – two really. The Irish tricolours dotted around the course reflected the support from the south but golf in Ireland melts the border and the northern locals were right in between him too.

The galleries were respectful to Fleetwood but there was no doubt where their loyalties lay. When he missed a short putt for bogey at the third, there was an audible cry of ‘yes’ amongst the gasps.

The rapturous standing ovations for Lowry, which had begun at the first hole, rippled round the course as he continued on his procession. Birdies at the fourth and sixth drew raucous cries of ‘Go on Shayn-o” and, more locally, ‘For Offaly’. When Fleetwood drilled his approach at the seventh into the bunker his shoulders visibly drooped.

“Oh Tommy,” he admonished himself.

Unable to apply any pressure to his playing partner, Fleetwood gave Lowry the space to play risk-free golf in stark contrast to his Saturday 63 but on a day like today it was a Divine blessing.

Lowry’s umbrella, which tore on its initial opening, had to be replaced during the round.

Lowry dropped shots at eight and nine when the weather was at its most foul but he steadied the ship with a four-foot par putt at the tenth which proved doubly valuable as Fleetwood bogeyed from short range.

On an afternoon when par was perfection, there was another important save by Lowry from the bunker at the short 13th.

It was a match play situation and when Fleetwood overcooked his chip from the rough and double bogeyed the next hole Lowry led by five with four to play.

A birdie at 15th after an approach to five feet brought a punch of the air. He was almost home.

With a six-shot lead they were already engraving the trophy as he made his way to the 17th tee. To be truthful they could done so hours earlier.

The 18th was a wild joy ride as he soaked up the sounds and sights of the greatest walk of his life.

For a long time Shane Lowry was not even the most famous sportsman in his own household – his father Brendan was an all-Ireland Gaelic football champion.

Today he became an all-Ireland hero.


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