Sport

The Open 2019: Shane Lowry’s historic victory holds a legacy that transcends golf

“Today, there is not a Northern Ireland and an Ireland,” an emotional Graeme McDowell said after his final round. “Shane [Lowry] has united us all.”

As night time fell over Portrush, bleary fans flocked back across the border, scoreboards and supersized tents were crumbled into cargo to be shipped across the Irish Sea, the cramped B&Bs emptied and the hoard of hungry taxi drivers made their final hour-long journey home to Belfast.

After waiting 68 years for The Open to return to these parts, the tournament was over in the blink of an eye as the rain cleared the pandemonium from the night before and the town returned to its isolated seaside normality. What, though, will become of the Irish unity that flourished over the weekend?

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

From
15p
€0.18
$0.18
USD 0.27
a day, more exclusives, analysis and extras.

In the Harbour Bar, two strangers sat in the bar in the town harbour praising Belfast boxer Carl Frampton – a unionist married to a republican – and it was only a small snippet into the conversations being had between those raised in the royal town and those who had arrived in Sunday’s early hours armed with hope and tricolour flags.

Of course, the harmony that encompassed Ireland will slowly give way to the fractious discord fuelled by Brexit and the looming uncertainty over the border. This is, ultimately, a society that will always be ideologically divided and sport cannot rewrite that. But, as the late hours of Sunday evening bled into Monday morning, there was a warm feeling in the air that stretched from this small corner of North Antrim.


The Open final round in pictures





1/24 The Open

2/24 The Open

3/24 The Open

4/24 The Open

5/24 The Open

6/24 The Open

7/24 The Open

8/24 The Open

9/24 The Open

10/24 The Open

11/24 The Open

12/24 The Open

13/24 The Open

14/24 The Open

15/24 The Open

16/24 The Open

17/24 The Open

18/24 The Open

19/24 The Open

20/24 The Open

21/24 The Open

22/24 The Open

23/24 The Open

24/24 The Open

1/24 The Open

2/24 The Open

3/24 The Open

4/24 The Open

5/24 The Open

6/24 The Open

7/24 The Open

8/24 The Open

9/24 The Open

10/24 The Open

11/24 The Open

12/24 The Open

13/24 The Open

14/24 The Open

15/24 The Open

16/24 The Open

17/24 The Open

18/24 The Open

19/24 The Open

20/24 The Open

21/24 The Open

22/24 The Open

23/24 The Open

24/24 The Open

This Open Championship was one of life’s rare occasions where such trying efforts, from the committee at Portrush, to the R&A and the politicians who set aside deep divisions to help finance the tournament, were perfectly rewarded. Even the great flood that washed over Sunday, sweeping away all but Lowry, only heightened the fever amongst those lining the fairways in transparent blue bin-bags.

Lowry is a humble hero whom every person across the country can find cause to cheer. A relatable, dry character who grew up in a town of little over 3,000 people in the Irish midlands. His show of resilience on a tidal final day, where raptures of wind laid waste to the day’s late starters as JB Holmes carded the worst final round in an Open since the ‘60s, was in many ways as brilliant as the course record 63 he ripped through on Saturday.

Some things cannot be calculated by mere birdies and bogeys. On a week where fans oozed over the promise of hometown heroes – Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke – it felt far more significant that it was, in fact, the lovable rogue from the Republic who united a baying and boisterous gallery from first tee to last. Whose first words to the wall of noise behind the green were “this is for you” and bore no north or south and reverberated with an echo beyond any local glory.

But the road to this triumph has been far from easy. Only a year ago Lowry had sat in the car park at Carnoustie weeping after a dismal first-round left him feeling disconsolate. On the eve of this tournament, he sat in the nearby Bushmills Inn soul-searching and disillusioned again. And, after his blistering third round, he lay in bed with wide-eyes reminiscing about how he had squandered the same advantage at the US Open three years ago. So when McDowell – born just minutes from here – and Padraig Harrington – a Dubliner through and through – waited beside the 18th green to congratulate him, it was symbolic of Lowry’s own muddied path to semi-deity.

Little moments such as those and all which followed into the night will survive even after The Open has long departed. Lowry has written himself amongst the greats of this unthinkable era of Irish golf. In Portrush, the tournament’s legacy will be one that shined a light on North Antrim and reflected across the country.

Those who nurtured the farfetched dream of this event and began the decade-long process to make it happen knew what a momentous impact the Major could have. To everyone else, it lived up to so much more than imagination.

And, no matter how brief, a unity was forged and resonated here in a way sport has rarely ever managed. With the Claret Jug in one hand and a pint in the other, Lowry was seen celebrating long into the night. As McDowell said, “to have an Irishman on top of the leaderboard made it extra, extra special”.

Source: Read Full Article