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History of The Open

Royal Portrush Rewind


The day Shane Lowry realised his boyhood dream

Shane Lowry realised his boyhood dream and lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush in July 2019.

The final winning margin at six shots, the scoreboard made it all look so simple for the County Offaly man, but on the final day in Ireland it was anything but.

There were bumps and turns, rain and shine, charges and capitulations all on a dramatic day four at The 148th Open.

And when all was said and done, it was Lowry who left with the spoils – here’s how he did it.

An early cushion

The 54-hole leader in the race for the Claret Jug could barely have asked for better preparation as he teed off at 1:47pm.

A course-record round of 63 on Saturday saw him charge into a four-shot lead over playing-partner Tommy Fleetwood, with JB Holmes a shot behind the Englishman.

No matter who you are, how many majors you have won, there will always be nerves when you lead The Open on Sunday – not least for Lowry.

In addition to playing in front of a partisan crowd, the 32-year-old had the spectre of the 2016 US Open hanging over him.

With an identical four-shot lead heading into the final round, he was heartbreakingly reeled in by Dustin Johnson – a fact that media outlets up and down the land were quick to mention in Portrush.

Before he took his turn, however, there was the small matter of the rest of the field.

While the likes of Jason Kokrak and 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari started impressively, both were too far out of contention to trouble the upper echelons of the board.

Justin Thomas put together a run of birdies at 3, 4, 5 and 7 to reach -8, while Jordan Spieth picked up a shot at the second to join him and apply pressure. 

The treacherous first

As a couple of charges had sprung up around the course, the leading pack began to appear on the first tee-box – but most of them trudged off that very green with concern writ across their faces.

The projected wind – which had forced organisers to bring tee times forward on the final day – had forcefully arrived and the opening hole became one of the hardest on the course.

Hughie’s is a testy par-four at the best of times. It plays over 420 yards and, with a fierce cross-wind knocking tee shots into the rough, it caught a plethora of the leading hopefuls in its net.

First to drop a shot was the much-fancied Brooks Koepka, followed in-kind by JB Holmes – who left with a double – and finally Lowry himself, trapped in the front-left bunker, could only make bogey.

While all three were steadily turning green, Tommy Fleetwood was practically glowing – despite missing a birdie putt, his par took him to within three of the lead.

Koepka went on to bogey his first three, with he and Spieth quickly falling out of contention at -6, while Fleetwood spurned yet another birdie attempt as Lowry settled down for par on the second.

And any early jitters, flashbacks to Oakmont in 2016, were quickly averted by the Irishman, who made his way – up and down – to the turn at -16, having been -18 through seven – but more important for Lowry was that he now had a five-shot lead, Fleetwood having dropped one on eight.

Lowry brings it home

As his nearest rivals continued to fall by the wayside, the path steadily cleared for the Irishman to claim his first major title.

Facing no immediate competition – Fleetwood dropped another at 10 – it was a case of putting the blinkers on and hitting fairways.

With the weather worsening, the umbrellas and cagoules came out, and conditions became all-the-more trying.

But Lowry held firm, making par at 10 before a dropped shot at 11 once again cut his lead to five.

Tony Finau was on the move, up to third alongside Lee Westwood at -7, although Lowry paid them no heed, knowing that he need not panic; it was Fleetwood who would have to make a move on him.

But the Southport man was unable to do so, the damage of Lowry’s bogey at 14 not only limited but non-existent as the Southport man dropped another with a double.

And when the local favourite sunk his birdie at 15 to lead by six, he was home free.

Eleven shots enough to stay where he was, Lowry promptly went 3-4-4, and when he sailed an iron straight down the middle on 18, even he knew that it was done.

The crowd jubilant, the atmosphere electric, he gave himself a chance to win it with a birdie.

Just short? No matter: Shane Lowry was the 2019 Champion Golfer, and few will forget the moment an Irishman lifted the Claret Jug at Portrush in a hurry.