Ireland’s Shane Lowry poses with his family and the Claret Jug after winning the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. (AFP/Glyn Kirk)
SHANE Lowry burst onto the professional scene with an incredible victory as an amateur at the Irish Open a decade ago, and he delivered again on Sunday by romping to a memorable British Open triumph at a wind-swept Royal Portrush. The 32-year-old became only the second player from the Republic of Ireland to win the Claret Jug, after Padraig Harrington, to the delight of the home crowds as the Open was given a dream result on its return to Northern Ireland after a 68-year absence. The stunning six-shot win, after leading by four strokes overnight, also banished the demons of Lowry’s collapse when four clear in the 2016 US Open at Oakmont.
The son of Gaelic football player Brendan Lowry, who won the All-Ireland title with Offaly in 1982 alongside his brothers Mick and Sean, claimed one of the unlikeliest of titles on his European Tour debut in 2009. Lowry entered that Irish Open at County Louth without a world ranking, but fired a 62 en route to an eventual win over England’s Robert Rock on a third sudden-death play-off hole. That victory had him earmarked as a potential star of European golf, but until this incredible week on the Causeway coast, he had perhaps slightly under-achieved despite some high moments.
Lowry missed out on the 500,000-euro winning prize, though, due to his amateur status, and he quickly turned pro the next week. Three straight missed cuts followed, but he steadily found his feet on the tour and took his second title at the Portugal Masters in 2012. Shubhankar equals best finish at Major after signing off tied 51st INDIAN golfer Shubhankar Sharma equalled his best performance in a Major, signing off tied 51st at the 148th Open Championships, here. Sharma sunk a 45-foot birdie on the final hole to savour a career-best round of 68 at the Majors on the final day which took his total to three-over 287. The only other time he made the cut in a Major was at the 2018 Open at Carnoustie, where also he finished T-51. Making his 23rd birthday memorable, Shubhankar hit six birdies, three of them on last six holes, including the dangerous 16th, also called ‘Calamity’.
Sharma carded 70, 72, 77 and 68 in the four rounds. “I am not used to doing much on my birthdays but the last two birthdays have been at The Open and they have been very special. I was in a restaurant last year and everyone there just stood up and sang happy birthday for me. And today, I couldn’t have asked for a better finish,” said the Indian. “It was quite special as the crowd, which was great through the week, sang that (birthday song) and I must admit it felt good. Hope I gave them something back with that birdie on 18th,” said Sharma. “It was easily the best round of the week, and but for those six holes at the start of the back nine on Saturday, I think I played very well.”
On being asked what his mindset was after the 77 on Saturday, “I was just trying to erase the memories from yesterday. There was nothing wrong with the game. It was just my mind, which had gone off yesterday in the back nine and I just couldn’t see a starting line off the tee. You can’t afford to do that especially on this back nine. It’s not easy. It’s very penal. I knew there was nothing wrong. It was just a mental thing.” The stretch of six holes, between 11th and 15th cost Sharma seven shots - three doubles, two bogeys against one birdie.