PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — The term “greatest of all time” should be used sparingly. It’s apropos in relation to Shane Lowry’s British Open victory.
Not the greatest Open Championship win. No. The greatest Irish victory since the tournament began in 1860.
By beating runner-up Tommy Fleetwood by six shots on a wet and windy on Sunday, Lowry joins Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy as Champion Golfer of the Year. The 32-year-old’s historic win stands out for one very important reason: he did it on home soil. Forget the demarcation between the North and South of this island: the Irish stand as one when it comes to golf. As far as Irish golf fans are concerned, Royal Portrush is an Irish golf course.
Daly won in 1947 at Royal Liverpool. Harrington stood victorious at Carnoustie and Royal Birkdale in 2007 and 2008. Clarke was the 2011 champion at Royal St George’s and McIlroy’s win also came at Royal Liverpool in 2014. Outstanding victories all, but Lowry’s win at Royal Portrush, arguably the best course in Ireland, stands out.
He began the day with a four-shot lead and extended it to six shots over Fleetwood with a birdie on the 15th to get back to 15 under par overall. Lowry shot a 1-over 72 in the final round for a 72-hole total of 15-under 269.
It’s arguably the second time Lowry has achieved that “greatest of all time” tag.
It’s arguably the second time he’s achieved that “greatest of all time” tag. Many believe his 2009 Irish Open win is the greatest in the history of that championship. Lowry was an amateur when he triumphed at County Louth.
The man from County Offaly to the west of Dublin began 2019 just trying to get back into the world top 50 to get into tournaments like the Open Championship, the other majors and the World Golf Championships. He did that by putting four years of frustration behind him by winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It moved him to No. 41.
The significance of that Middle East win should not be underestimated. It got Lowry’s career back on track.
“You never know when your next win is going to come,” he said after Abu Dhabi. “In this game, you just need to keep your head down, keep doing what you do and hopefully you’re doing the right things.”
He did all the right things over four days at Royal Portrush. Just ask any Irish golf fan anywhere on this island.