Shane Lowry's Open win left us all pinching ourselves this morning after the madness of it all. Did it really happen? Is Shane Lowry actually Open champion? We have no idea he how must feel.
There was some brilliant sportswriting in Portrush, examining among other things, the exuberant crowds, the political ramifications of the tournament itself and at the heart of it all, the burly Offalyman who woke up with the Claret Jug this morning.
Alan Shipnuck for Golf.com wrote the big picture stuff perhaps better than anyone:
Lowry is a native of Clara, 50 miles west of Dublin and 100 miles from the invisible border that separates the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland. Winning a golf tournament — even this one — would not suddenly erase the harsh realities of the divided Irish island, but it offered a stage for potent imagery. In the gallery down the right side of the 1st fairway, four tri-colored flags from the Republic fluttered. In another context, here in the dark green heart of Northern Ireland, this could be a provocation. Instead, it was a celebration of the man who was suddenly a favorite son. Lowry made a hash of the 1st hole but drilled an eight-footer to save a crucial bogey. He pumped his fist and Portrush shook. Golf is the only shared religion in this part of the world.
Rex Hoggard of the GolfChannel captured the emotional timbre of the entire tournament wonderfully:
As a rule, cavemen tend to bottle things up. Stuff it down and bury it deep. The only good that can come from self-actualization is competitive paralysis. Only fools search for answers in the chambers of the human heart. For the Tier-1 professional, emotional safety is found in detached indifference, not needless sentimentality.
It’s what you do. It’s the requirements of the job. Scratch the surface too much and you probably won’t like the answer.
But this was different. This was truly an emotional Open and an outlet for the delicate soul.
Christopher Clarey in the New York Times wrote:
As the thunderous support on Saturday and Sunday made clear, this was a unifying moment for the Irish even if the locals would surely have found a victory by a Northern Irish star like Rory McIlroy or McDowell to be the perfect ending. Still, it was quite a symbolic finish and quite a breakthrough moment for Lowry, whose talent has been widely apparent since he won the Irish Open as an amateur in similarly nasty weather in 2009.
In the Washington Post, Chuck Culpepper wrote about Lowry's journey over the last 12 months:
A happy story played out in sad-story weather on an exuberant Sunday of good spirits and other spirits at Royal Portrush. It reiterated the time-honored idea that heartbreak plus time can equal strength. It retold of golf’s mad fickleness in that it happened 12 months after — oh, gosh — an Irish golfer wept in a Scottish car park.
Somehow that same Irish golfer, 32-year-old Shane Lowry, walked the 72nd hole amid delirious cheering with a six-shot lead and tranquil nerve endings and said, “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.” The first British Open in Northern Ireland in 68 years had been an unmitigated smash, reaping raves for its course, its town and its coastline.
Writing in the Guardian, Andy Bull captured the madness in the gallery as the rain bucketed down:
All you knew was that it was clearly some place where the locals were so crazy about the game that they thought these were fit conditions in which to be out watching golf. Any place, were they sensible, they would all have been shut up indoors with the curtains drawn, but here there were plenty striding about in shirts and shorts.
A lot of them did not even have tickets but were up on the sand dunes, or along the roads running over the nearby hills – there was, astonishingly, even someone bobbing about in the sea who seemed to be trying to film it all on his mobile phone. They filled every last spot where they could feasibly catch a glimpse of this unlikely victory.
On the BBC.com, Tom English sampled the celebrations on 18 after Lowry sank that Open-winning tournament
In acclamation, Portrush burst into song. 'Ole, Ole' followed by the 'Fields of Athenry'. This wasn't just a golfing Mecca now. It was the Kingspan Stadium when the Ulster rugby team are flying. It was Croke Park on All Ireland final day. It was a slice of everything - and it was special.
L'Equipe turned to Anglais with its Glory For Lowry headline: