The 148th Open Royal Portrush
The 148th Open
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The best stories from Day 4

Shane Lowry Round 4 Highlights

What a fitting finale to the long-awaited return of The Open to Northern Ireland.

68 years after the battle for the Claret Jug was last contested outside of mainland Great Britain, Royal Portrush served up a treat for the eyes across four action-packed days.

But only one player can be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year - and Shane Lowry produced a nerveless display in front of a boisterous home crowd to claim the prestigious title.

As the island of Ireland prepares to toast the 32-year-old county Offaly native’s success late into the night, here’s a look at the best stories from the final day of the last major of the year.

Lowry leaves Open legacy

Standing on the 18th green on Irish soil as the Champion Golfer of the Year - it’s no surprise to hear Lowry describe the aftermath of his triumph as an “out-of-body experience”.

The 32-year-old from county Offaly completed a six-shot triumph after holding the overnight lead, seeing off the challenge of a leaderboard with many of the biggest names in world golf.

Lowry hurdled every challenge that came his way en route to his maiden major success and he was quick to hail Royal Portrush after the long-awaited return of The Open to Northern Ireland.

Lowrycelebrates

“This is my eighth Open, it was the best one I've ever played in. The way it was ran, the golf course, everybody was raving about the golf course, how good it was.

“So I'd be very surprised if it's not back here in the next ten years. Portrush have just been incredible. Obviously I've had success here in the past in amateur events. 

“I knew coming up that I liked the place, but I didn't want to get too ahead of myself or anything.”

Best finish for Fleetwood

It hurts now but when Tommy Fleetwood looks back on The 148th Open in years to come, he will have plenty of fond memories to cherish from his week at Royal Portrush.

The 28-year-old improved on his best finish at The Open for a third year running, sealing second place behind Lowry with a final round of 74 on a difficult day on the Dunluce Links.

And while six shots ultimately separated him and Lowry on the leaderboard, Fleetwood admitted that there will be plenty of positives to take from his experience once the dust has settled.

“I think first and foremost, whatever happened, today was going to be an experience and I was going to take things from it,” said Fleetwood, whose previous best Open finish was T-12 in 2018.

Fleetwood

“That's the first time I've played in the last group of a major on a Sunday. You learn things as you go. You learn things about yourself. I watched Shane in The Open.

“I watched how he conducted himself and how he played. And for four rounds of golf I was the second-best player in the event, which is a great achievement. You have to look at it like that.”

Koepka joins elite club

Brooks Koepka’s Sunday charge may have failed to materialise in the end, but the world No.1 still managed to create more history on the country Antrim coast with his best Open finish.

The 29-year-old bettered his T-6 at Royal Birkdale to finish T-4 at Portrush, having already won this year’s US PGA Championship and finished second in The Masters and US Open.

And his latest near miss means Koepka became just the fifth player to finish top-five in all four majors in one calendar year - a feat that the American was more than satisfied with.

Brooks

“I played good this week, so it’s obviously disappointing not to have the finish I was looking for. It becomes I guess a battle to try and figure it out and try to improve on it next year,” he said.

“It was a great run for three of the majors and then this one, nothing you could do. How cool is that to win in Ireland? Props to Shane, he played unbelievable golf.“

Molinari goes out punching

After three days struggling to get to grips with the Dunluce Links, 2018 Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari ensured he finished his defence of the Claret Jug with a bang.

Just as he had done on Sunday at Carnoustie last year, the Italian carded a bogey-free final round - this time a five-under 66 - to post the best round of the day at Royal Portrush.

Reflecting on his reign, Molinari said he cherished every moment of the last 12 months with the Claret Jug after his final day charge saw him climb up to T-11 on the leaderboard.

Molinari

“It was obviously not what I was hoping for, but at the same time I think it's understandable, it's never easy to defend the championship, and especially so in a major,” he said.

“It's been an interesting week. Obviously it gave me a sense of closure coming back and defending and getting the week done and I'm happy the way I played today.”

“Hopefully next time I'll be mentally more ready to defend another major. My preparation was really good. In a way that harmed me because the expectation went up.”

Finau finishes with flourish

With a number of American names heading into the final round in contention, it was Tony Finau who provided the best challenge on Sunday to finish in third on his own.

Finau recorded his best ever major finish after shooting a level-par 71 despite playing in the worst of the weather, with two birdies and two bogeys to his name.

And the 29-year-old from Salt Lake City was more than satisfied with his performance.

“I thought it was really good, I played nicely, I played solid. I hit it good,” he said. “I don't know how many birdies I made, maybe three birdies, which is pretty good out there I thought,” he said.

“The wind was hard. We got to the 11th and it had been blowing quite a bit. I think we got the worst of it as it started raining and blowing sideways. It played extremely tough.

“We had to weather the storm there in the middle of the round. I’m really proud of the way I played this week. Close to my best finish in a major on this venue is pretty cool.”

A debut to remember

What a week it’s been for Robert MacIntyre.

The Scot carded a three-under 68 in his final round to share sixth place on five under in his debut Open, rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th to spark jubilant celebrations.

“You never know how many of these you're going to get. For the first one, it's been a dream come true,” said MacIntyre, whose finish was the best by a Scot since Colin Montgomerie in 2005.

MacIntyre

“The first time today I'd actually said we've played the golf course the way it was meant to be played. We stuck to our guns, we done everything right.

“It was brilliant, the experience all around, from the first tee and the first day to the last day.

“We just didn't get the putts going this week, but to finish with a putt on the last, to hear the cheers made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. That's what you play for.”