The Open: Shane Lowry achieves dream, sets sights on Ryder Cup


The Open, the oldest of golf’s four majors, had not been held in Northern Ireland for 68 years because of the Troubles that dogged the nation, but Lowry’s charge to the Claret Jug united fans from both sides of the border.
They roared him on in thunderous fashion and chanted his name in scenes reminiscent of the raucous atmosphere at the Ryder Cup, and Lowry’s next dream is to play for Europe against the USA in the biennial match next year.

Judging by his nerve to build on a four-shot lead in the face of eye-popping pressure, he will be an asset to European captain Padraig Harrington’s side in the white-hot atmosphere of Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, in 2020.

And who should be one of his close group of family and friends watching behind the 18th green but Harrington, who won the Open in 2007 and 2008.

“The Ryder Cup, that’s the plan,” Lowry told CNN Sport in the Royal Portrush clubhouse. “It was very kind of Paddy to wait for me on the 18th green.”

Shane Lowry was roared on by raucous home support at Royal Portrush.

‘Dream come true’

The 32-year-old described the experience of winning the Open as “surreal,” saying he can’t quite believe he is a major champion.

“To do it here in Portrush is even more special, it is a dream come true,” he added.

“I didn’t know if I would achieve anything like this and I have and I’m really going to enjoy it.”

Lowry joins an illustrious roll call of recent success stories from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, alongside three-time major champion Harrington, Portrush’s Graeme McDowell the 2010 US Open champion, 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke and former world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who bagged four majors between 2011 and 2014.

“Paddy and G-Mac (McDowell) are two really good friends of mine now and I’m just so happy I can add my name to the list of major champions,” he said. “Like, you go into Paddy’s house and the Claret Jug is sitting on the kitchen table, and I’m going to have one on my kitchen table as well.”

Shane Lowry joins an illustrious list of major champions from both sides of the border in Ireland.

Golf is fickle

Lowry’s previous best finished in a major was tied second in the US Open at Oakmont in 2016 — but the sting in the tail was blowing a four-shot overnight lead going into the final round.

He suffered no such blips on a testing day at Portrush Sunday, feeding off the lively crowd and seemingly oblivious to the at times torrential rain and gusty winds.

Lowry won his first European Tour title — the 2009 Irish Open — when still an amateur and added a fourth in Abu Dhabi in January.

But he missed his fourth consecutive cut in the Open at Carnoustie last year and says he had fallen out of love with the game.

“Carnoustie, that just shows you how fickle golf is,” said Lowry, whose dad Brendan followed his round Sunday. “Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner. That’s why you need to fight through the bad times.

“It was something that became very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes.”

Shane Lowry celebrates as he walks up the 18th fairway on his way to winning the Open.

Lowry credits the turnaround in fortunes to the people around him, including caddie Bo Martin and coach Neil Manchip, who delivered a crucial pep talk over coffee at a hotel in nearby Bushmills on the eve of the Open.

“I suppose hard work and belief in myself and belief from the people around me,” he told CNN of his reversal.

“I wouldn’t be here without any of them.”

Lowry also says the perspective that comes from becoming a father to Iris, born in 2017, helps him to process the bad days on the golf course.

“It has a lot. If things didn’t go to plan [Sunday] I would have been unbelievably disappointed but at the end of the day you’re going back to a warm home with a family.

“It could be worse.”

He won the Open at Royal Portrush in front of an excited home crowd.

It couldn’t be much better.

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