It was his to lose, but Ireland’s Shane Lowry had no intention of letting the Claret Jug slip from his grasp as he romped to victory in the Open at Royal Portrush for his first major title.
The 32-year-old weathered difficult conditions and the pressure of holding onto a sizeable overnight lead to beat England’s Tommy Fleetwood by six strokes, with American Tony Finau third.
Lowry had become the crowd favorite since Northern Ireland’s stars fell out of contention, and he rode their raucous support to surge clear with that course-record 63 Saturday before a battling 72 Sunday to end 15 under.
He becomes only the second player from Ireland to win a major after Padraig Harrington won three between 2007 and 2008, kickstarting a remarkable period of success for golfers from both sides of the border.
The world No.33’s previous best major finish was second in the US Open in 2016 after he blew a four-shot lead going into the final day.
But not this time.
Despite having missed the cut in his last four Opens, Lowry seemed impervious to the periods of lashing rain, fierce gusts and expectation, both from within and from the feverish fans, who roared him onto and off every green and tee.
In tandem with caddie Brian “Bo” Martin he plotted his way around Portrush’s celebrated Dunluce links, offering no opportunities for the chasing pack and keeping his head when he made mistakes.