By Associated Press
And then along came Lowry, who teamed with McIlroy to bring Irish golf a European Amateur title in 2007, and who won the Irish Open as an amateur 10 years ago. He joins Padraig Harrington as Irishmen to win majors, while McIlroy, McDowell, Clarke and Fred Daly are major champions from Northern Ireland.
“Everyone knows we’re all one country when it comes to golf,” Lowry said.
It was one big group hug when it ended, starting with his wife and daughter, and his parents. Harrington and McDowell were among those waiting behind the 18th green to share in the celebration, along with Koepka and his caddie, Ricky Elliott, once a promising amateur who grew up at Royal Portrush.
“I didn’t feel great out there. It was probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt on a golf course,” Lowry said. “You’re out there trying to win an Open in your home country, and it’s just incredibly difficult.”
It showed early when Lowry pulled his tee shot into the rough, hit into a deep bunker well short of the green and had to make an 8-foot putt just to escape with bogey. The wind was picking up and it was relentless for so much of the day. Lowry made his move on the more forgiving start, with three birdies in a four-hole stretch through the par-5 seventh that boosted his lead to six.
Everyone except Fleetwood fell back.
J.B. Holmes, who shared the 36-hole lead with Lowry until falling back Saturday, really went the wrong direction. He hit his first tee shot out-of-bounds. And it only got worse. He made one birdie and shot 87.
Lowry’s lead was four shots when he saved par from a bunker left of the par-3 13th. Even on his bogey at the next hole, he added to his lead when Fleetwood hit a poor shot from the fairway bunker into the rough, couldn’t get to the green and three-putted for a double bogey.
“I never really got close enough, and Shane played great,” Fleetwood said. “The conditions were horrendous. It was Shane’s time, Shane’s tournament.”
Lowry shared it with his family who paved the way, the players who inspired him. And after he was introduced as “champion golfer of the year,” he shared it with thousands of people he didn’t even know, all of them crammed along the hillocks and swales, along the edge of the ocean, and who sat in the horseshoe-shaped grandstands under umbrellas waiting for the Irishman to arrive.
Holding up the claret jug, Lowry said to them, “This one’s for you.”