There are no four words more significant in the game of golf than “Champion Golfer of the Year.” And for the entire calendar year, Shane Lowry will get to experience possessing that title.
Playing along the cliffs of Royal Portrush Golf Club, Lowry was able to conquer the major championship pressure to hoist his first Claret Jug. A final round 72, when Mother Nature’s elements wreaked havoc, demonstrated the Irishman’s innate ability to protect his four-shot lead. Three years ago, when Lowry had a four-shot, 54-hole lead at Oakmont for the U.S. Open, he faltered in the final round spotlight.
Now, on his home turf a mere 200 miles from where he grew up, Shane responded with championship pedigree. And is now forever etched into the annals of Ireland’s illustrious golf history.
“I can’t believe this is me standing here,” Lowry said as he cradled golf’s oldest trophy. “I can’t believe this is mine.”
Shane Lowry’s Entrenched Connection to Ireland and Golf
Familiarity and comfortability go hand in hand with Shane Lowry’s golfing success. Growing up in Mullingar, Ireland, Lowry embraced the country’s golfing traditions and the deep passion for the game. Winning the Open Championship was the ultimate goal.
In 2007 and 2008, Padraig Harrington became the first Irish-born golfer to hoist the Claret Jug. A memory that served as motivation for Shane Lowry to claim victories as a professional golfer.
In 2009, at the same Royal Portrush Golf Club, Lowry came onto the golfing scene with an epic Irish Open victory as an amateur, in the third sudden-death playoff hole. It was then the youngster was garnering attention on the national landscape, including from fellow compatriot Padraig Harrington.
“It’s fabulous for Irish golf. You only have to look at the fact it is such a rarity for an amateur to win, such a rarity for an Irish player to win the Irish Open,” stated Harrington at the time.
As his career has progressed, Lowry has inherited the ebb and flows of any professional golfer. While winning select tournaments, the major championships evaded him.
Until this week at Portrush.
Shane Lowry Credits Pep Talk with Coach
Golf can be rewarding at times. But excruciatingly fickle at others. A year ago at Carnoustie, Lowry missed his fourth consecutive Open Championship cut. He was in the depths of a slump, where the game of golf was not kind to the 32-year-old.
But this season, Lowry was trending in the positive direction. He had won the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi. At the RBC Canadian Open in Hamilton, Lowry finished runner-up to eventual champion Rory McIlroy. Despite only one practice round a month ago at Portrush, Shane felt at ease coming back to a course that he adored so much.
Even professional golfers need pep talks. After an uncomfortable few days of practice, Lowry sat down for a heart-to-heart conversation with his coach, Neil Manchip. The 40-minute conversation put Lowry in the right frame of mind to achieve greatness and history in front of the raucous Irish fans at Portrush.
“I went to get a coffee down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes,” said Lowry. “I left that room full of confidence and ready to go.”
Every round, Lowry’s game was clicking into form. The pinnacle performance was on Saturday, where the Irishman set the course record with an 8-under 63. The lowest 54-hole record preceded Lowry’s capability to battle the physical and mental obstacles of getting to victory.
When the rain poured and the wind howled in the final round, Lowry exemplified a solid short-game and comfortability around the greens. As Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and several others fell out of contention, Lowry continued to hit quality shots, evidenced by his 67 percent greens in regulation.
Royal Portrush Big Winner
As Lowry walked up the 18th fairway, with “Olé Olé Olé” chants in the background, the country favorite could finally savor the moment. Hugging his parents greenside, and kissing his daughter, is what every Father and golfer dreams of. Sometimes dreams do come true in the game of golf. It certainly was achieved for Lowry at Royal Portrush Sunday afternoon.
“Everyone knows we’re all one country when it comes to golf,” Lowry said.
When the R&A announced that the Open would be returning to Ireland, it was met with admiration and curiosity. The last time Royal Portrush hosted the Open Championship was in 1951 when Englishman Max Faulkner raised the Claret Jug.
68 years later, Royal Portrush proved to be an enthralling venue. And produced a fitting champion. Not too far from Portrush in Offaly, Ireland, is Esker Hills Golf Club. Esker Hills was where a young Shane Lowry learned the game of golf. The site of the birth of a young boy from Ireland’s dream to become an Open champion.
Shane Lowry learned the game at Esker Hills Golf Club. This was scene there when he became an Open champion. pic.twitter.com/cE69ItuKns
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) July 21, 2019
Years later, the pub inside the Esker Hills clubhouse was filled to the brim with energetic Irish fans. When Lowry tapped in his clinching putt on the 72nd hole, the place erupted with joy. For Shane Lowry, winning the Claret Jug isn’t just celebrated in the pubs across Ireland.
It will be remembered and revered in this golfing nation for many years to come.