From the end of the third round, the fate of the 2019 Open Championship would first be decided by one man: Shane Lowry. While the Irishman didn’t play flawless golf Sunday, the four-shot lead he took into Sunday was never reduced to less than three shots en route to his first major championship.
With tens of thousands of fans in Northern Ireland cheering him on, Lowry shot a final-round 72 to win the Open by six strokes over Tommy Fleetwood at Royal Portrush. It’s his second win on the PGA Tour and will vault him back into the top 20 in the World Ranking.
While it was never quite close in score, Lowry kept things interesting with five bogeys on Sunday. His first tee shot of the day hooked hard left into the rough. The bogey that followed — with Fleetwood making par — made it all the more real. Lowry took a deep breath and began playing again.
The 32-year-old, who won the Irish Open as an amateur a decade ago, proceeded to play the next six holes in three under, settling the emotions of the nervous crowd. Lowry reached 18 under for the tournament before some sloppy driving cut his lead to four once again on the back nine.
To be fair, the weather conditions had become the worst of the week. Rain spewed down on the field and wind howled stronger than 20 mph. Gusts approached 30 mph. Lowry would hit just one of his next six fairways and make four bogeys in the process, dropping his score to 14 under.
But again, his lead remained. Fleetwood made three bogeys during that stretch as well, so Lowry’s lead grew to five. No other players made significant runs at the top of the leaderboard. Many of the early contenders backed up far from Lowry. Struggling in the wind, J.B. Holmes shot 87 from the penultimate group. Tony Finau’s even-par 71 pushed him into a solo-third finish, his career best at a major.
Lowry made his final birdie of the championship — his 23rd of The Open — on the 15th. He’d finish par-par-par for the six-shot win. Back at his home club of Esker Hills, some 180 miles south of Portrush, the party was in waiting. It is no doubt there will be plenty of party to go around the island of Ireland this week.
The scene after Shane’s birdie at 15. The roof is about to come off. pic.twitter.com/utYfj176ui
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) July 21, 2019