Shane Lowry will give the Claret Jug pride of place on his kitchen table after his emphatic victory in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Roared on by a sell-out crowd undeterred by the miserable conditions, Lowry carded a closing 72 to become the fifth Irish player to lift the Claret Jug after Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.
The 32-year-old from Offaly finished 15 under par, six shots ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood, with American Tony Finau two strokes further back in third.
Harrington was Lowry’s hero growing up and the two men have become good friends since Lowry turned professional after winning the 2009 Irish Open as a 22-year-old amateur.
“I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major,” Lowry said.
“I knew I was able to put a few days together. I knew I was able to play the golf course.
“I just went out there and tried to give my best. And look, I’m here now, a major champion. I can’t believe I’m saying it, to be honest.
“I think the people around me really believed that I could, which helped me an awful lot. I do remember a lot of times in the past when I’m down on myself and had serious chats with my coach Neil (Manchip), he always reminded me, he always said that I was going to win one, at least one, he said.
“I grew up holing putts back home to win The Open. I watched Paddy win his two Opens. I didn’t even know him back then. I’m very good friends with him now.
“You go into Paddy’s house and the Claret Jug is sitting on the kitchen table, and I’m going to have one on my kitchen table, as well.”
Three years after failing to convert a four-shot lead in the US Open at Oakmont, Lowry took the same advantage into the final round at Portrush and almost lost most of it on the opening hole.
“I had a nice healthy lead going out and I hit a ropey tee shot on the first,” he said.
“Then you’re standing on the first green, Tommy has a great chance of birdie and I’m putting for bogey from eight feet.
“There’s a potential three-shot swing. He misses, I make, and there’s only one shot difference. Then when I was struggling around the turn I had a look at a few leaderboards and saw everyone else was struggling too and that settled me a lot.”
With none of the chasing pack able to mount a charge, Lowry recovered from three bogeys in the space of four holes from the eighth with a crucial birdie on the 15th and was able to savour the walk down the final hole before embracing his wife Wendy, daughter Iris and parents Bridget and Brendan on the 18th green.
Lowry fought back tears as he thanked his parents during the presentation ceremony, adding: “They sacrificed so much for me when I was younger and I’m so happy that I can hand them this trophy.”