Shane Lowry recovered from a mid-round stumble to shoot 1-over 72 and finish with a 15-under 269, claiming his first major title at The Open Championship at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush.
Lowry, from Ireland, entered the day at 16-under par and with a four-shot lead over England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
“Wow. What can I say?,” said a triumphant Lowry afterward. “I just have so many people to thank, really. First of all, the R&A for such a great event. To have an Open Championship here in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush Golf Club is just amazing. I love this place; it’s one of my favorite places in Ireland. To be able to come up here and play an Open Championship is great.”
Playing in blustery weather, Lowry stretched the lead to six strokes early. Three bogeys in four holes around the turn dropped his lead back to four.
“I did quite well, to be honest, because I got off to a very shaky start,” he said. “But the crowds were just unbelievable. I didn’t feel great out there. It was probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt on a golf course. You’re trying to win an Open in your home country, and it’s incredibly difficult.”
Fleetwood’s bid to catch Lowry hit a snag on the 14th hole, when Lowry bogeyed and Fleetwood double-bogeyed. Lowry then birdied No. 15, while Fleetwood shot par, to push his lead back to six with three holes to go.
The pair both shot par over the final three holes to seal Lowry’s victory by six strokes.
“This feels like an out-of-body experience,” said Lowry to Sky Sports while holding the Claret Jug. “I was so calm coming down the last! I couldn’t believe it. What a day. It was difficult out there, the weather was so hard.”
He continued: “Around the middle of the round, when I started to struggle, made a couple of bogeys, I had a look at the leaderboard and seen that most people were doing that. It was unbelievably difficult out there today. I kept on saying to myself, ‘Bogeys are not going to hurt me, so let’s just keep the ball in play.’ Turned into a two-horse race between me and Tommy at the end, which was quite nice because I felt like I could keep an eye on what he was doing and put some pressure on him also.”
Lowry, 32, held a four-shot lead after 54 holes of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, but settled for a tie for second after imploding with a final-round 76.
Fleetwood took the loss in stride.
“First three, four, five holes, I think the way I played I could have built some momentum,” Fleetwood said. “Hit some great shots and didn’t really convert the putts. Just hole those putts and just build a start, which I didn’t really do. It was tough from there. I never really got close enough and Shane played great. The conditions were horrendous for like two or three holes. All in all, it was Shane’s time, Shane’s tournament. And he did great. Congratulations to him. It’s a little bit sore right now, but overall it’s been a great week.”
J.B. Holmes, who entered the day alone in third place at 10-under, finished a disastrous 16-over 87 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 67th — ahead of just three players.
American Tony Finau finished third overall at 7-under after shooting even par on Sunday.
Four-time major champion and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka had a chance to finish in the top three, but he failed to birdie No. 18 and finished in a tie for fourth place with England’s Lee Westwood, who shot a 2-over par 73.
Koepka had top-three finishes in the other three majors this season (T2 Masters, won PGA Championship, and second in the U.S. Open) and was vying to become the first player in the modern era to finish in the top three in all four.
He joins Rickie Fowler, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods as the only players to finish in the top five at all four majors in a calender year in the modern era.
Fowler, who shot 3-over, finished in a four-way tie for sixth at 5-under with Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett and with Scot Robert MacIntyre.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari had the round of the day with a 5-under 66, which boosted him 43 spots into a tie for 11th.
–Field Level Media