Dubai: The triumph of Shane Lowry at the British Open on Sunday could not have been better timed as the tournament returned to Northern Ireland soil after 68 years. Gulf News looks at the five takeaways from the event:
Nothing like Irish golf
Every year, this little stretch of events in Europe never fails to disappoint. Seeing the American crew cross the Atlantic for a quick run-out in unfamiliar conditions is a refreshing take on the sometimes mundane grind of the PGA Tour. Watching players constantly switch in and out of rain gear, having to play away from the hole and even seeing aggressive players hold back off the tee is cathartic in many ways. The atmosphere was unlike anything else, and it would be a shame if The Open doesn’t come back to Northern Ireland soon.
Shane Lowry easy to root for
Four years on from his well-documented US Open collapse, Offaly-born Shane Lowry did more than just conquer his demons this time around — he gave the entire country something to celebrate. With the beaming smile that protrudes through his beard, Lowry did not hold back in giving the Irish fans the emotion they wanted to see.
Walking down the fairway with his head held high and his arms raised even higher, Lowry saw a childhood dream come to reality. Moments before holing out his final putt, Lowry sought out his wife and daughter in the crowd before tapping in and being crowned Champion Golfer of the Year.
Molinari a fighter
Defending champion Francesco Molinari came into this week looking for the game that spurred him on to his maiden major last summer – but he found nothing. While his swing looked sharp, Molinari just lacked that finishing touch that took him to the top step of the championship last year. Still, Frankie displayed his warrior spirit in other ways. With a closing 66, he ensured that he would give the fans who came out to support something to cheer, and with his family following along, he left his heart on the links, regardless of the final outcome.
Rory always the favourite
Backyard boy Rory McIlroy doesn’t need to be reminded of the opportunity that slipped. After a nightmarish start, Rory went out in front of the home crowd and gave them something to remember. With a classy 65 that brought him oh-so-close to a heroic comeback that almost saw him make the cut, it was clear the entire nation was behind him, as every putt that he made elicited roars that echoed across the property. His candour with the media directly after spoke volumes to the degree of his disappointment, and the way he fought back after Thursday was a victory in its own right for the nation that stood by him till the end.
Brooks better than we think
Brooks Koepka was a good putting week away from further advancing his legacy as one of the greats — but the argument here is that his performance this week did more than a victory could have. It is no secret that Brooks struggled badly on Sunday, yet, all those struggles (and four opening bogeys to start his round) were still good enough for a top-five finish in hellish conditions. He was not at his Sunday best, but still pocketed a cool $503,000 (Dh1.8 million).
The takeaway is simple: Koepka’s bad days are streets ahead than anybody else’s.