Shane Lowry struggled to keep his emotions in check after completing his win. (AP: Jon Super)
Irishman Shane Lowry has fought back tears after winning the British Open in a procession, sending fans into a frenzy with an emotion-charged six-stroke victory at Royal Portrush.
- Shane Lowry’s lead was never in doubt as he waltzed home to a six-stroke Open victory
- The Ireland native was vocally backed by a loyal local crowd
- Cameron Smith, the only Australian in action over the weekend, finished tied for 20th
Lowry closed with a 1-over 72 in miserable conditions on Sunday to finish at 15-under for the championship and comfortably clear of English runner-up Tommy Fleetwood (74).
In Northern Ireland’s first Open since 1951, Lowry joined Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008) as only the second man from south of the border to claim the Claret Jug, or win any of golf’s four majors.
He also followed in the famous footsteps of fellow Irishmen Fred Daly (1947), Darren Clarke (2011) and Rory McIlroy (2012 and 2014), all from north of the border, to win The Open.
Fittingly, Harrington and 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell were there to embrace Lowry next to the 18th green before the champion paid a heartfelt tribute to his family.
“My mum and dad, they sacrificed for me when I was younger and I’m so happy I can hand them this trophy tonight,” Lowry said.
“It was just incredible to walk down 18. The crowd is going wild, singing. I just couldn’t believe it was happening to me.
“And it was nice, very nice of Paddy and G-Mac to be standing on the back of the tee for me.
“I tried to soak it in as much as I could. It was hard to soak it in because it’s very surreal.”
In converting his overnight four-shot buffer into a day-long celebration for jubilant home fans, Lowry also exorcised the demons of Oakmont in 2016, when he squandered a same-sized third-round lead to all but hand the US Open trophy to Dustin Johnson.
But he said it was not as easy as it looked after a sleepless night tossing and turning, wondering if he truly had it in him.
“I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major,” Lowry said.
“I knew I was able to put a few days together. I knew I was able to play the golf course. I just went out there and tried to give my best.
“‘And, look, I’m here now, a major champion. I can’t believe I’m saying it, to be honest.
“It’s just incredible to be sitting here with a trophy in front of me. Look at the names on it.
“It’s not going to sink in for a couple of days.”
Lowry’s Sunday lead was briefly cut to three when he bogeyed the first hole after finding the rough off the tee then sand with his approach.
But that was as close as Fleetwood, or anyone else from the chasing pack, would get to reeling him in.
Deafening roars from the delirious crowd resonated around the course as birdies at the fourth, where he drove the green, fifth and seventh holes briefly had Lowry at 18-under.
Fleetwood trimmed the deficit to four shots with a birdie on 12, but he was always going to have to settle for second prize.
Tony Finau (71) was third two strokes behind at 7-under, with fellow American and world number one Brooks Koepka (74) sharing fourth at 6-under with Englishman Lee Westwood (73).
Cameron Smith, the only Australian to make the halfway cut, finished tied 20th at 1-under after closing with a 76.