The Open: Shane Lowry is fitting champion on return to Royal Portrush, says Jamie Weir
By Jamie Weir, Sky Sports News reporter
Last Updated: 23/07/19 3:05pm
Sky Sports News reporter Jamie Weir reviews a triumphant return of The Open to Northern Ireland and the effort involved in its staging at Royal Portrush.
The Open's return to Royal Portrush was a triumph.
The world's best players fell in love with the breathtaking Dunluce Links; the fans arrived in their droves, unperturbed by some typically Northern Irish weather, to provide an unforgettable atmosphere; this little golf-mad seaside town opened its arms, and at the end of four enthralling days an Irish Champion Golfer of the Year.
The final day may not have provided the drama we saw with last year's stacked leaderboard at Carnoustie, or with the gripping duel at Troon between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson, but a lot of those thrills came on a Saturday that will live long in the memory.
Under blue North Antrim skies, Shane Lowry was roared on to one of the greatest rounds in Open history.
Players salute Lowry on Twitter
Shane Lowry's victory in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush on Sunday has attracted plenty of reaction on social media.
Every shot fired in close, every putt that dropped, every time he even walked onto the green, he was greeted with a deafening roar more akin to a Ryder Cup than an Open Championship. The chorus of 'Olé Olé Olé' that welcomed him onto the 18th was spine-tingling.
In spite of the atrocious weather, the decibel levels on Sunday were no lower and as he held his arms aloft and embraced his caddie 'Bo' on the 18th green, there was no escaping the feeling that Royal Portrush had produced a fitting champion.
People in Northern Ireland are too often divided. Sport is something with the power to unite us all. As is the case with a number of sports - rugby, cricket, hockey etc - golf is played under the banner of a unified Irish team.
Young golfers growing up in Northern Ireland represent Ireland. And so this was a home winner, make no mistake about that.
The Open returned to Northern Ireland after a 68-year absence, true. But it also returned to Ireland. And those privileged enough to have been around that 18th green on Sunday evening will have sensed the outpouring of joy and pride that one of our own had won the Claret Jug on home soil.
It's difficult at times to detach myself, remove the Northern Irish blinkers and not become too misty-eyed, but from chatting to others I'm left in no doubt that the 148th was a truly special Open.
Northern Ireland put on one hell of a show.
Clarke and G-Mac hail Portrush
Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell have praised Portrush following a "wonderful" and "amazing" week at The 148th Open.
The course was a true test, the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean was spectacular and crowds were phenomenal. The town played a huge part, all the bars packed to the rafters all week long, the excitement and buzz in the air palpable.
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So many people deserve praise for making this happen. The R&A themselves, who took a gamble which paid off. The Northern Irish Executive who has the vision and the will to make this happen. Royal Portrush Golf Club, whose members wholeheartedly welcomed The Open.
But one person to me deserves special mention. Wilma Erskine, the club secretary and life and soul of the place, whose boundless enthusiasm and can-do attitude truly made this dream a reality. She had a smile from ear to ear on her face all week, and no wonder.
It was a long 68-year wait for golf's oldest and greatest tournament to return to this little part of the world. As the crowds slowly depart, many bleary-eyed and nursing sore heads, it's clear it'll be a much shorter wait before The Open is back here again.