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Saturday 24 August 2019

'It feels like I'm in an out-of-body experience' - Shane's joy at epic win

 

Shane Lowry poses with his wife Wendy and daughter Iris
Shane Lowry poses with his wife Wendy and daughter Iris
Fans cheer him on at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly
Fans cheer him on at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly

Shane Lowry entered the annals of golfing history after clocking up the 10th major win for an Irishman in 12 years with a euphoric result that delighted the whole island.

Making the 148th Open Championship victory even sweeter was the fact that it was the first time the tournament had been played on this island in 68 years.

The cheers from Royal Portrush roared out as Lowry (32) sank his final putt with a final round of 72 to claim the coveted Claret Jug.

He achieved a heroic victory in the face of woeful conditions - kindly described by one commentator as "squally" - as Lowry's bewildered opponents experienced the true meaning of an Irish summer.

Persistent rain, huge gusts and chilly temperatures throughout the day made the 32-year-old hard to catch, and even his nearest rival, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, never stood a real chance of chasing him down.

So assured was his victory by the time he reached the 18th hole, smiling broadly as he saw his title win within his grasp, that his name was engraved on the trophy before he made his final shot.

Incredible

An emotional Lowry was congratulated by his ecstatic family as cheers of "Ole, ole, ole" rang out around the 18th green and he was embraced by his wife Wendy, their two-year-old daughter Iris and his parents Brendan and Bridget.

"Honestly, I feel like I'm in an out-of-body experience. I was so calm coming down the last hole, I couldn't believe it. What a day. It was miserable out there, the weather was so hard," he said.

"I wasn't going great around the middle of the round and then I had a look at the leaderboard and seen everyone else struggling. And then it turned into a two-horse race between me and Tommy.

"I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and know what it's going to feel like then. It's just going to be incredible."

He also thanked his parents for sacrificing so much for him when he was younger.

"I'm so happy I can hand them this trophy," he said.

In the town of Portrush, the party was in full swing in the Neptune, the Tourist and the Harbour Bar where it was standing room only.

All roads led north over the weekend as a procession of southern-reg cars thronged the seaside town and belief began building in a victory for the Offaly golfer.

Hardy fans were seen trudging around the town decked out in rain gear and toting golf umbrellas, with plenty of grass widows checking out the local attractions as their other halves watched history unfold at the course.

Harbour Bar publican Willie Gregg was doing a roaring trade as he welcomed visitors from all over the world, as golfing aficionados piled in seeking refuge from the driving rain and huddled around the giant screens.

They raised the rafters when Lowry made the final shot, with none more delighted than Gregg, who had been flying the flag for Portrush since the tournament was first confirmed for the club.

Gregg, whose pal Darren Clarke is a customer, said the win "means everything to this whole island, not just Portrush". Lowry was a "gentleman", he said.

"This tournament has meant everything to the area. It's priceless for the town," he added.

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