SHANE LOWRY IS THE NEW OPEN GOLF CHAMPION

Lowry takes the Open claret jug while Scot Robert MacIntyre makes top ten

The drama that enthralled the fans at Royal Portrush today as Shane Lowry lifted the claret jug watched by his wife, Gwen, and daughter, Iris. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

Ireland’s Shane Lowry claimed a first major championship win with a dominant six-shot victory on 15 under par amid raucous scenes at The Open in Royal Portrush.

Lowry started the celebrations early, his arms aloft as he squeezed through the crowds who swarmed the 18th fairway.

The 32-year-old held his nerve in the wind and rain to shoot a one-over-par 72.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood briefly threatened but he ended on nine under, six strokes behind Lowry, who was magnificent.

Thousands of fans, who travelled by StenaLine from Scotland for the event,  lined the 18th to cheer Lowry’s victory procession down the 18th fairway.

The Co Offaly golfer turned to embrace his caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin after hitting his second shot to the green, hundreds swarmed ahead of him.

Lowry and Martin were shepherded through the crowds and under a rope to allow them safe passage.

Image result for Robert MacIntyre golfer images

Oban golfer Robert MacIntyre who finished in the top ten at the Open.

Oban-born Robert MacIntyre says his Open Championship debut was a “special week”, despite a diary clash meaning his mother was not able to be there for the last two rounds.

The Scot carded a three-under-par 68 to share sixth place on five under at Royal Portrush.

His finish inside the top 10 guarantees the 22-year-old a spot at Royal St George’s in 2020.

“My mum made a slight wee mistake,” MacIntyre told BBC Scotland.

“She booked a concert with friends and family members and she thought it was actually next week. She arrived on Tuesday and said, ‘there’s a slight problem’. I’m sure she’ll be watching the TV and watching the scores.”

MacIntyre rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole after also making birdies at the second, seventh and 10th. His tie for sixth is the best finish by a Scot at The Open since Colin Montgomerie’s second place at St Andrews in 2005.

“It’s been a brilliant experience and today just topped everything off with that putt on the 18th,” said MacIntyre, who has already had two second places on the European Tour this season.

“It made it a special week. You have putts when you’re a youngster pretending it’s for an Open Championship. Unfortunately my putt wasn’t for the Open Championship but it definitely gave you a flavour of what can happen.”

MacIntyre’s father Dougie, who is the head greenkeeper at Glencruiten Golf Club in Oban, was there for the duration.

“My dad will be absolutely delighted for me along with the other family and friends that were here, and everyone back home as well,” added MacIntyre.

“I have three weeks off now so I’ll probably take the first week to relax and enjoy this, and then back to work again and try and get better.”

Compatriot Russell Knox, whose sister works with Radio Clyde,  finished on two over after a six-over 77.

Even the Northern Ireland Police Service woman constable congratulated Shane Lowry on his Open Championship win at Royal Portrush – “Golf is one of the few sports that is represented by players from both sides of the Border,” former Open champion Darren Clark said yesterday. All the talk was about back spin and not a word about backstop. The man in the fancy shirt which will no doubt be a trendsetter is Liverpool lad Tommy Fleetwood, who came second.


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