The Open’s return to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 was never going to be a quiet affair, regardless of who triumphed.
However, a 32-year-old from County Westmeath made it just that little bit louder. Shane Lowry, your Champion Golfer Of The Year.
Let’s look back at the best of the action from the 2019 Open Championship.
Lowry keeps his cool to land the Claret Jug
It wasn’t meant to be that easy. In fact, it was probably anything but. Lowry just made it look that way, closing with a one over par 72 to win his first Major Championship by six shots.
“I grew up holing putts to win The Open,” beamed the new champion. “It was always The Open. It’s just incredible to be sitting here with the trophy in front of me. Look at the names on it. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
After dropping a shot at the first, he responded with three birdies in four holes from the fourth. Then came the rain – and it was heavy. Three shots went in quick succession and the finishing line was still a good way off. It mattered not, for everyone was feeling the full force of Mother Nature.
The atmosphere was electric, as a capacity crowd cheered their hero home. The party, you suspect, will continue for some time.
Super Saturday and Lowry’s course-record 63
Lowry showed the field a clean pair of heels on Moving Day. His course-record 63 (-8) didn’t contain a single dropped shot and included birdies on three of the last four holes.
It meant Lowry, who had missed the cut in his last four Opens, entered the final round with a four-shot advantage over playing partner Tommy Fleetwood.
Fleetwood continues to knock on the door
The 28-year-old from Southport has now finished runner-up at the US Open and Open Championship. Only Lowry’s brilliance over the weekend denied the Ryder Cup hero a first Major title.
Fleetwood did his best to overturn the four-shot deficit, but Lowry offered few opportunities for anyone to make significant inroads, save for a dropped shot on the first.
On a day of extreme weather conditions, it was not easy to attack the flags and the Englishman’s challenge petered out on the back nine.
Big names struggle to mount a final-day challenge
It was always going to be a big ask for someone from the chasing pack to reel Lowry in. However, a number of those who were expected to apply pressure on a man going for his first Major had days to forget – albeit in abhorrent weather.
World number one Brooks Koepka started the day seven shots back, but began with four straight bogeys to drop out of contention. Meanwhile, Justin Rose, who suffered a case of the unmentionables on the ninth, ended his Open quest with a 79.
However, no one struggled more than the hapless JB Holmes. After starting the day just six adrift of Lowry, he carded an 87 (+16).
Scot Robert MacIntyre makes his mark
Remember the name. The Scot ended a dream debut in a share for sixth, a result that means the 22-year-old can already look forward to next year’s Open at Royal St George’s.
The man from Oban became the first Scottish golfer to finish in the top 10 at The Open since Colin Montgomerie’s second place at St Andrews in 2005.
He made a few other headlines along the way, too. After watching playing partner Kyle Stanley send a couple of shots into the crowd without shouting Fore!, MacIntyre had the guts to pull the American up.
It lead to a war of words, although not many sided with Stanley, who felt his errant shots were made obvious by his caddie, playing partners and a couple of volunteers.
Rory succumbs to the pressure
It was the story pretty much everyone wanted – McIlroy, Open champion at Royal Portrush. However, the dream was over as soon as his opening tee shot left the clubface and sailed out of bounds.
Round one was bookended with a quadruple-bogey eight, and a triple-bogey seven.
The 30-year-old Ulsterman missed the cut by one shot after shooting 65 in round two, but he handled his early departure with great class.
It’s a long wait for the next Major, The Masters, but for the 2014 Open champion there’s the opportunity for another crack at the Grand Slam.
Woods feels the pain
Watching Tiger Woods tackle the game’s great links courses has always been one of the most fascinating aspects of The Open over the last 20 years.
Sadly, we only got two rounds of entertainment from the 15-time Major winner, who afterwards admitted ‘Father Time’ is beginning to take hold.
“One of the reasons why I’m playing less tournaments this year is that I can hopefully prolong my career, and be out here for a little bit longer,” he said. Let’s hope he’s fighting fit at Royal St George’s next year.
The Open 2019 – Final Round Highlights
The Open 2019 – Round Three Highlights
The Open 2019 – Round Two Highlights
The Open 2019 – Round One Highlights