Shane Lowry was a deserved winner of the 148th Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. JOHN GOLIATH looks at five talking points following the Major’s return to Ireland.
Lowry buries the ghosts of Oakmont
The only time Shane Lowry showed any sign of nerves was during his emotional acceptance speech. Not even a bogey at the first hole in the final round seemed to disturb his focus on Sunday, as he galloped to a first Major victory. It was in stark contrast to what happened at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, when he squandered a four-shot lead in the final round. This time around, though, he turned four ahead into a win by six. Lowry is an extremely popular winner, and every Irishman, from the north to the south, embraced him. The Guinness must have flowed freely on Sunday night. (It might even still be …)
Fleetwood, Fowler will eventually win a Major … we hope
Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie are considered to the best golfers never to win a Major. It’s a title no golfer wants. Westwood was there and thereabouts again this weekend, but failed to shake that monkey off his back. At 46, Westwood’s time is running out to win that coveted Major, but two other nearly men, Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler, still have time to carve out a Major fairytale after they failed to keep up with the marauding Lowry. They are two wonderfully talented players, who know to win big tournaments. It’s just a matter of time before they sit and eat at the big table. At least we hope so.
South Africans run out of steam on Saturday
The top half of the leaderboard were littered with South African flags going into the weekend. However, the golfers from the Republic shot a combined nine-over par on moving day, which sunk their chances of winning South Africa’s first Major since Ernie Els’ triumph at The Open in 2012. Louis Oosthuizen and Erik van Rooyen finished as the top South Africans on one-under par, while a 78 in horrendous conditions on Sunday had last week’s John Deere Classic winner, Dylan Frittelli, finish at one over alongside veteran and four-time Major winner Els.
Should we be more concerned about Tiger’s back?
Do we know everything there is to know about Tiger’s back? Well, we know it doesn’t quite cooperate when it’s cold, as was the case at the PGA Championship and certainly at Royal Portrush. Northern Ireland is not quite a place we can describe as ‘tropical’. Woods also only played 10 rounds of tournament golf heading into the Open following his Masters win in April. His comeback to the Major winners circle was spectacular, but he has been a shadow of the player who so masterfully took down Augusta National and the rest of the field. It begs the question: will we get to see the Tiger who triumphed at Augusta again? Or are these issues with his back going to be the new norm?
Royal Portrush was a massive success
Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn said on Twitter the 148th Open was the best he had ever experienced as a player and broadcaster. It certainly was a spectacular venue, with the course playing tough, but fair, and the spectators lining almost every inch of it. The punters were spirited, but respectful, and the players certainly enjoyed the Open’s return to Ireland after a 68-year absence. We have a feeling that this won’t be last time the Open will be hosted on the Emerald Isle.