The Irish Times view on Shane Lowry’s victory: into the pantheon
This was a famous triumph for one of Irish sport’s most popular figures
Shane Lowry reacts on the 18th hole during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Shane Lowry’s victory at the 148th British Open Championship at Royal Portrush means that he becomes the sixth Irish golfer to win one of golf’s four Majors. He follows in the spike marks of Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington (2), Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke – all of whom have lifted the iconic Claret Jug - and Graeme McDowell.
The 32-year-old from Clara in Offaly, a son of Brendan, who was on the Offaly team that won the 1982 All Ireland Senior football title, enjoyed a fine amateur career. Having taken up the game as a 15-year-old, he won the Irish Close Championship (2007), the West of Ireland and the North of Ireland Championships (both 2008), the latter at Portrush and two European team Championships with Ireland.
In 2009 he became just the third amateur to win a European Tour event when claiming the Irish Open title at Baltray, beating Robert Rock in a three-hole playoff. He has won a further three tournaments as a professional, while recording three Top 10 finishes in Majors, including a tie for second at the 2016 US Open.
On that occasion he led by four shots going into the final round but couldn’t hold off the eventual winner Dustin Johnson. But enjoying the same advantage at Portrush this weekend, he didn’t falter. His third round 63 was one of the tournament’s greatest rounds and his three round total was the lowest ever in British Open history.
It’s a wonderful victory for one of Irish sport’s most popular figures – a model professional, a grounded individual and a passionate advocate of Offaly hurling and football and Leinster and Ireland rugby. Under torrential rain and whipping winds, he responded to every hint of a wobble on Sunday with a deft chip or an ice-cool putt to steady the ship. He seemed immune to pressure.
The fact that Lowry’s triumph came on Irish soil, 68 years after the tournament was previously staged at Portrush – the only other time in its 148 year history that the Championship was not staged in either Scotland or England – makes his success all the more poignant.