For many years the Open has been golf’s most timeless championship, renowned for the enduring sporting quality on show and the passion and enthusiasm the worlds best golfers show in pursuit of the coveted Claret Jug. Following several years of planning and preparation the 148th Open was ready to be hosted at Royal Portrush Golf Club, set in the North Coast of Antrim. The Open was also confirmed as a sell-out for the first time in history, following record breaking ticket sales.
Back in July 2018, when the 147th Open was well underway in Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland - it would eventually be won by Francessco Mollinari - the 2019 tickets went on sale. I happened to be on holiday in Mollinari's native Italy when my parents phoned to say that they'd successfully applied for final day tickets for the follwing year. We would be on our way to Royal Portrush - a wonderful early birthday present for 2019.
Fast forward to July 2019, where the day finally arrived. On my way to Portrush and then on to the golf club I travelled with golf enthusiasts from around the world, eagerly excited to know what the final day would bring. By 10am plenty of games were well underway, and after waiting in line to get a seat in the grandstand in the first tee, I watched golfers such as Sergio Garcia, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson and Portrush native, Graeme McDowell tee off for their final round, many of them harboruig lofty ambitions of closing the gap between themselves and the leader.
Following my experience in the first tee grandstand I then made my way along the course watching several players compete and aiming to finish in the highest place achievable. Whilst soaking in the atmosphere the many games I followed throughout the course included Patrick Reed-Justin Thomas at Fred Dalys (Hole 4) and Jordan Speith-Henrik Stenson at Curran Point (Hole 7).
As the final day went on the weather took a turn for the worse but failed to stop play, and throughout the stormy weather the two final competitors, Tommy Fleetwood of England and Ire;and's Shane Lowry, fought it out for the Claret Jug. Shane Lowry came into Sunday six strokes ahead and in holes 9-18 several fans flocked the spectator pathways to witness the intense finale. Lowry started well, but three bogeys between Holes 8 and 13 allowed Fleetwood to narrow the lead from six to four strokes.
However, Lowry held on to his lead, and would eventually lift the Claret Jug, thanks in no small part to his caddy, Bo Martin, who was constantly on hand to hand out psychological advice, to refrain his player from getting carried away at crucial stages.
On the eighteenth green, the USA's Brooks Kopeka and Ricky Fowler completed their tournament, finishing 3rd and 4th respectively, before the stage was set for Shane Lowry to to make his way down the fairway to standing ovations from the large crowds, some of which eventually made their way onto the fairway to witness Shane's final putt in the Babingtons, to become the 148th Open winner. A remarkable achievement for the Offaly native who previously failed to make the open cut in three consecutive occasions.
As Shane was presented the Claret Jug he immediately turned his attentions to his family, backroom team and friends whom he thanked for having sacrificed so much so that he could pursue his career in golf. This success, he said was dedicated to them.
As a self-confessed sports fanatic I have attended many great sporting occasions down the years, but Shane Lowry’s success in the Open Championship is definitely one of the most spectacular yet. It was an honour to witness, and I once again congratulate him on his sporting success. Who knows what more his future holds. We can look forward to seeing him compete in many more majors to come.