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The moment Shane Lowry won the OpenIreland’s Shane Lowry claimed a first major championship win with a dominant six-shot victory on 15 under par amid raucous scenes at The Open.Lowry started the celebrations early, his arms aloft as he squeezed through the crowds who swarmed the 18th fairway at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush.Despite a wobble on the first, the 32-year-old held his nerve in the wind and rain to shoot a one-over-par 72. England’s Tommy Fleetwood briefly threatened but he ended on nine under.Thousands of partisan fans lined the 18th to cheer Lowry’s victory procession down the final hole and as the 32-year-old turned to embrace his caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin after hitting his second shot to the green, hundreds flooded the fairway ahead of him.Lowry and Martin were shepherded through the crowds and under a rope by marshals to allow them safe passage to the green.There will also have been a sense of redemption for Lowry following his final-round capitulation at the US Open three years ago.He, like on Sunday, had started with a four shot lead but a 76 saw him pipped to victory by Dustin Johnson.The tussle between Lowry and Fleetwood ebbed and flowed. From Lowry dropping a shot on the first, to building up a six shot lead before a nervous start to the back nine saw the advantage slip back down to four.But Lowry holed some crucial par putts in the closing stages to keep Fleetwood at arm’s length before a birdie on the 15th all but secure the coveted Claret Jug.American Tony Finau carded a one-over-par 71 to end third on seven under, his best finish at a major.An up-and-down round for England’s Lee Westwood saw him card a two-over 73 for a share of fourth that guarantees him a place at next year’s Masters. He finished six under overall alongside world number one Brooks Koepka who struggled to a 74.Lowry writes himself into Irish folklore
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Drama on the first as Fleetwood makes up a shot on LowryThere was little doubt about the who the vast majority of the fans were behind from the first moment until the last, with huge cheers greeting Lowry’s name when it was read out over the speakers as he arrived at the first tee.He had looked calm while out on the practice green but nerves appeared to take their hold when he tugged his opening tee shot into the rough before hitting his second into a greenside bunker.Lowry escaped with a bogey but the nerves were there for Fleetwood too as he missed a birdie putt that would have cut the lead to two.The 28-year-old, bidding to become the first Englishman to win the open since Nick Faldo in 1992, then over-hit his par putt on the third and the bogey meant Lowry’s advantage was four once again.That seemed to give Lowry the confidence boost he needed and he holed two successive birdie putts from the fourth. Heavy rain and wind arrived soon after and Lowry, battling both the elements and nerves, struggled after the turn, bogeying four of the five holes from the ninth.
Shane Lowry coped with the difficult conditions better than his umbrella didFrom then on it was about digging in and not giving Fleetwood the glimmer of hope of taking it down to the wire. Lowry holed a couple of crucial par putts before celebrating a birdie on the 15th with a big fist pump. It was a putt that appeared to signal the moment Fleetwood’s fleeting hopes of staging a comeback were ended. Lowry’s name was already being engraved on the Claret Jug as he approached the 18th green as he soaked up the adulation from the thousands gathered to witness the biggest win of his career.Westwood’s wait goes onWestwood, runner up at 2010 The Open, will have arrived at Portrush on Sunday quietly confident of mounting a challenge as he looked to break his major duck.The 46-year-old Englishman made a poor start with a bogey on the first but recovered with three birdies over his next four holes. However, every time he looked like threatening the leading pair, the chance to close the gap passed him by. He left a birdie putt hanging on the edge of the seventh hole before missing another opportunity on the eighth.His challenge effectively ended around the turn with bogeys on the ninth, 11th and 12th and he finished six under overall after carding a two-over 73.Westwood’s compatriot Justin Rose had an even tougher day. He shanked a shot almost sideways in the midst of the heavy rain while on the ninth and did not pick up a birdie until the 12th hole. But three bogeys in his last six holes saw him return to the clubhouse with an eight-over 79 to end one under.In contrast, Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre and England’s Tyrrell Hatton were the only two golfers who finished in the top six to fire under-par rounds on Sunday.Much of that will be down to their earlier start time and missing the stormy weather but MacIntyre, making his major debut, hit a three-under-par 68 while Hatton finished on two under. They shared sixth place alongside England’s Danny Willett (73) and American Rickie Fowler (74).More to follow.