Jul 21st, 2019
The Giant of Portrush!
Lowry stands firm as Ireland celebrates
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
They needed it to be tough out there if they were going to challenge Shane Lowry but in the end, it was too tough and the conditions actually played in to the hands of the big man. For a man who grew up playing links golf up and down Ireland he was always going to be one of best equipped if the really high winds came.
Lowry, as an amateur, won the Irish Open in awful conditions and he took all that Royal Portrush could throw at him in his stride. He stayed calm when the bogeys inevitably came in the wind and rain, but his confidence grew as his only real challenger, Tommy Fleetwood, started to faulter and the rest of the field were no longer in the rear-view mirror.
Nobody really launched a challenge all day and one by one they fell further and further behind. The exception was Tommy Fleetwood who held on in there but sadly never really found his game and his putter was stone cold. Fleetwood squandered a great chance on the first hole when missing from eight feet when Lowry had a similar length putt for bogey and had he sunk it then things could have been very different. Lowry holed and Fleetwood moved within four shots, it was the closest he would come and the pressure appeared to dissipate.
The rest of the pack made it easy for the Irishman. Rahm, Fowler and Holmes all knocked it out of town at the first. Holmes would go on to have a round he will wake up in a cold sweat screaming about, a sixteen over par 87 (ouch!). The mighty Brooks Koepka took himself out of contention with bogies at the first four holes, although he did eagle the 5th after driving the green.
Justin Rose of England was another who failed to perform. The world number four was out in five over – game over.
Not one of the leading groups broke par with the best performer being Tony Finau who managed an even par round of 71.
England’s Lee Westwood arguably hit the ball better than any of those in contention but once again his putting deserted him. A miss from two and half feet at the first set the scene for what would be another miserable round on the greens. His round of 73 could have been so much better if he could have just putted half decently and perhaps a major is now beyond his reach.
England’s Danny Willet, who partnered Westwood, looked like he may take a run at it but he like many buckled under the barrage of wind of rain and would eventually do well to match Westwood
Earlier in the day, when the conditions were a lot easier the holder Francesco Molinari shot an excellent five under 66 to move to three under. By the close of play he moved from being in the fifties to finishing just outside the top 10, in tied 11th.
The young scot Robert MacIntyre was another early starter to take advantage of the conditions finishing on five under after an excellent closing 68. He will be back at Royal St George’s next year following his finish tied 6th.
They will be partying long in to the night all over Ireland and one better hope that they have enough Guiness in Portrush. A worthy winner, Lowry showed his artistry and gave everyone a lesson in links golf. It’s amazing how big men quite often have a magic touch around the greens and the Irishman is no exception. Every time he missed a green you just knew he’d find a way to up and down it.
The 148th Open has been a huge success. Record crowds and one magnificent golf course combined to deliver a great event. The ultimate fairy tale ending would have been for one of the Northern Irish trio of Clarke, McIlroy or McDowell to lift the Claret Jug but a winner from south of the border comes a very close second.
Royal Portrush must now be firmly on the Open rota and with crowds like these let’s hope we are back there again soon.
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And another thing...