Shane Lowry of Ireland could afford a few stumbles on the walk in the rain to his first major title in the 148th Open Championship.
The 32-year-old Lowry shot 1-over-par 72 and claimed a six-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood of England as some of the best golfers in the world struggled in wind gusts up to 25 mph on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club https://www.royalportrushgolfclub.com in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Lowry took the lead by shooting 63 in the third round.
The crowd at Royal Portrush that supported Lowry all week roared one more time with approval as Lowry accepted the coveted Claret Jug that goes to the Champion Golfer of the Year in only the second Open outside England and Scotland, the other at Royal Portrush in 1951.
“It’s just incredible to be holding this trophy,” said Lowry, who claimed his fifth professional victory, including two Irish Opens. “I can’t believe this is happening to me. To have an Open Championship in Northern Ireland is great and to win it is just amazing. I just love this place. Everyone knows we’re just one country when it comes to golf.
“I got off to a shaky start with a bogey on the first hole and I’ve never been so uncomfortable on a golf course. I just tried to keep the ball in play and then it turned into a two-horse race with me and Tommy, so that made it a little easier because I could just keep my eye on him.”
Lowry, who took a four-stroke lead to the final round as he did three years ago in the U.S. Open at Oakmont before tying for second behind Dustin Johnson, stayed in front this time and posted a winning score of 15-under 269.
Fleetwood got to within three strokes only after Lowry’s opening bogey and the Irishman virtually put the title away with a seven-foot birdie putt at No. 14, where Fleetwood made a double-bogey 6 to fall six behind.
“I hit some good shots on the first 3-4-5 holes and could have built some momentum, but I couldn’t convert the putts,” said Fleetwood, who has never won a major championship and also finished second behind Brooks Koepka last year in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. “I never had too much of a chance after that.
“The conditions were horrendous and Shane played great. He was just amazing today, so congrats to him. I’m a little sore about it right now, but eventually I’ll be able to put it into perspective as a great week.”
Tony Finau, another player seeking his first major title, closed with a 71 to finish eight shots back in third, while top-ranked Koepka made bogeys on the first four holes before a too-little, too-late eagle on the fourth hole and his 74 left him one more back in a tie for fourth with Lee Westwood of England, who closed with a 73.
Koepka, who has claimed four major titles in the last three years, capped a brilliant major championship season in which he won the PGA Championship for the second straight year, tied for second in the Masters and was solo second behind Gary Woodland in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Robert MacIntyre of Scotland totaled 68 to finish 10 strokes back in a tie for sixth with Tyrrell Hatton of England, who had a 69, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett of England, who posed a 73, and Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who came in at 74, while Patrick Reed was one more down in 10th after a 71.
Defending champion and seventh-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy shot 66 to wind up in a tie for 11th that included eighth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who finished at 75, and ninth-ranked Justin Thomas, who wound up at 72.
Fourth-ranked Justin Rose of England struggled to a 79 to tie for 20th, 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA shot 74 to tie for 41st, and second-ranked Dustin Johnson tied for 51st after a 76.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html