An emotional Shane Lowry said he cried in a car park at Carnoustie after missing the cut at last year’s Open Championship, as he clinched the Claret Jug in style at Royal Portrush on Sunday.
Lowry scored a gritty one-over 72 in demanding conditions, where high winds and intermittent heavy rain made life difficult for the field, to seal a six-shot victory from Tommy Fleetwood.
The contrast to 12 months ago could not be more vast. Lowry had failed to make the weekend at The Open for a fourth straight year, plummeted to 92 in the world rankings and had lost some love for the game.
“I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major. I knew I was able to put a few days together,” Lowry told reporters.
“I just went out there and tried to give my best. I’m here now, a major champion. I can’t believe I’m saying it, to be honest. I think the people around me really believed that I could, which helped me an awful lot.
“I do remember a lot of times in the past when I’m down on myself and serious chats with Neil [Manchip, his coach], he always reminded me, he always said that I was going to win one, at least one, he said. So I suppose when the people around you really believe in you, it helps you an awful lot.
Incredible performance @ShaneLowryGolf
Enjoy every single minute of it, starting from the party tonight!
Thanks to everyone in Portrush for making it an unforgettable @TheOpen for all the players and families
— Francesco Molinari (@F_Molinari) July 21, 2019
“I grew up holing putts back home to win The Open. I watched Paddy [Padraig Harrington] win his two Opens. I didn’t even know him back then. I’m obviously very good friends with him.
“You go into Paddy’s house and the Claret Jug is sitting on the kitchen table, and I’m going to have one on my kitchen table as well. I said that to him, that’s going to be quite nice.
“Carnoustie, that just shows how fickle golf is. Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner. That’s why you need to remind yourself, and you need other people there to remind you. You need to fight through the bad times.
“I sat in the car park in Carnoustie on Thursday, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. Golf wasn’t my friend at the time.
“It was something that become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes, I suppose.”
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2019
After his Carnoustie setback, Lowry split with long-term caddie Dermot Byrne and has seen a marked turn up in fortunes with Bo Martin carrying his bag, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, and recording top-10s at the RBC Heritage, US PGA Championship and Canadian Open prior to his victory at Portrush.
Lowry, who revealed Martin recently became a father, said his caddie helped him keep calm amid Sunday’s nerves.
“Bo’s been incredible in the last year,” he added. “He started caddying for me about September last year,which is about when I started playing well again.
“He brought a new lease of life to me, he was unbelievable today. I kept telling him how nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I don’t want to mess it up.
“He was great at keeping me in the moment. We’ve formed a great relationship. It was great for him today, they had a baby two weeks ago. He’s now become a very good friend of mine, to share it with someone close, it’s very special.”
“Shane, I couldn’t be more proud of you – see you for a pint!”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 21, 2019
Lowry was also able to share his winning moment with wife Wendy and daughter Iris, a moment he will cherish.
“I spotted my family when I walked around the corner to have a look at the green and I welled up a little bit. I still had to play a decent shot but luckily I did,” he said.
“Those pictures are everything. My wife knew that no matter what, she [Iris] should be there because had I lost she would console me.”