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Shane Lowry now a superstar but a very accessible superstar

Colin Byrne: British Open champion will remain an ordinary lad living an extraordinary life

The historic 148th British Open Championship was supposed to be won by Rory on the Antrim coast, but was in fact captured by Shane. The dream was that Rory, who felt so at home on the spectacular Portrush links would prevail, the reality was that Ireland's other in-form golfer chose to dominate the greatest golfing spectacle that our links has ever witnessed.

For all European golfers the reality is that they are battling a foreign partisan crowd, mainly in America, for Major titles. It is frequently a hostile environment on top of the pressure of dealing with your own emotions. Rafa Cabrera-Bello and I happened to play in front of Shane Lowry for the first two rounds and I found myself being drawn back to the group behind us. For the first time, probably ever, the legendary Phil Mickelson, Shane's playing partner had to play second fiddle to the Offaly man.

It was not simply patriotism, Lowry was performing on the terrain that lends itself to his silky shot-making style. It was easy for the “15th club” to sing the unofficial Irish anthem of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé,Olé . . .’ in support of the native instead of the familiar American chant of “You de man PhillyMick”. The underperforming American looked positively sheepish beside the thriving Lowry.

Innate talent

Shane is from the heart of the country and that is who he is. He has an innate talent to strike a golf ball, he can deal with pressure and knows how to win. He loves to ply his trade globally but he also can’t wait to get home. He has the discipline to plan to contend at an international golf tournament but he also knows how to relax and keep a balance. Of late, at 32, he has matured into a serious contender by gaining equilibrium in his life; if he doesn’t perform as he knows he can he does not beat himself up in the way he might have as a younger man.


Golfers tend to be quite obsessive, the game by its nature can draw you into a quest for perfection, it’s only when you reach the age of reason and realise that no matter how talented you are, perfection is a futile fascination. It is balance that enables you to realise potential. Rory made a sobering statement after he won The Players this year that he didn’t consider himself a bad person just because he had hit a bad shot. Many of them do.

Shane has a languid stride and an engaging smile, he always looks as if he is ready for a chat as he wanders about the range or the clubhouse, he is actually interested in people and not just golf. He loped around the hospitality area in Portrush with a mini-entourage, his coach, his caddie, his physio, his manager and family members, he looked comfortable in his environment, as if he belonged.

Shane knows how to win and he knows how to celebrate

The year he won his first European Tour event in Portugal in October 2012, he had chipped in more than a dozen times in competition that year. For a big man he has a delicate touch around the greens. As those who followed his progress in Portrush last week will attest he is the personification of the old adage of "when its breezy, swing it easy". He always looked as if he played within himself. His third shot into the wind on nine on Sunday was a classic example of how to control the ball in wind with your body movement. His shot travelled quail high towards the pin in classic wind-cheating Lowry style, seemingly without any effort. I was caddying for Ernie Els some years ago and nobody swings the club with more grace and serenity than "the Big Easy". Ernie watched Shane hit a few shots, surreptitiously on the range, and quickly surmised that "he was a player". It takes one to know one.

Shane looked in control as he ambled around Portrush with his hands in his sleeveless windbreaker. He admitted after victory that he was not. The steadying hand of his relatively new bagman Brian “Bo” Martin from Ardglass hauled him back to the present and the task in hand. While Shane admitted he could not stop thinking about winning, his caddie kept his focus where it needed to be. Winners tend to play down their fortitude under pressure, probably because it is actually instinctive. Go back to Shane’s grinding victory in Abu Dhabi earlier this year when he unravelled in the last round having given up a four-shot lead. He had the resolve to halt the decline and regrouped to win with impressive golf over the finishing holes. You have to be strong to throw a big lead and ultimately redeem yourself.

Shane Lowry is now a superstar. He has won a Major, but he will always be a very accessible superstar because he is still an ordinary lad now living an extraordinary life. The Irish caddies and players traditionally have a Christmas party each year and Shane tends to be instrumental in making sure it happens and nobody goes home early. He knows how to win and he knows how to celebrate.

He has shown us and the world how to win the biggest event for a British or Irish player to win. He did so seemingly with ease, grace and his own style and humility, because it is who he is. He is a winner from Offaly who knows how to get it done. Now watch how he celebrates.