'I grew up holing putts to win The Open' – Lowry's Portrush victory realises childhood dream

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The 148th Open Championship – final-round leaderboard
-15 S Lowry (Ire); -9 T Fleetwood (Eng); -7 T Finau (US); -6 L Westwood (Eng), B Koepka (US); -5 R MacIntyre (Sco), T Hatton (Eng), D Willett (Eng), R Fowler (US); -4 P Reed (US)
Selected others: -3 F Molinari (Ita), T Lewis (Eng), J Thomas (US), J Rahm (Spa); -1 L Oosthuizen (SA), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), J Spieth (US), J Rose (Eng); +2 R Knox (Sco), M Kuchar (US); +3 B Watson (US); +4 P Casey (Eng), G McDowell (NI); +5 J Furyk (US); +6 JB Holmes (US)

Shane Lowry says he realised a childhood dream as he claimed his first major by winning The Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The Irishman, 32, finished on 15 under par to win by six shots from England’s Tommy Fleetwood amid a raucous atmosphere on the Dunluce Links.

Lowry was followed through wind, rain and heavy storms by thousands of fans roaring him on to lift the Claret Jug.

“I grew up holing putts to win The Open. It was always The Open,” he said.

“It’s just incredible to be sitting here with the trophy in front of me. Look at the names on it. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”

The world number 33 had said after Saturday’s scintillating course record eight-under-par 63, that saw him take a four-shot lead into Sunday, that he would go to bed “thinking about holding the Claret Jug”.

However, he revealed he struggled to sleep and woke up in the night thinking about what lay before him.

Three years ago he had the same advantage going into the final day at the US Open but fell away as American Dustin Johnson won at Oakmont.

He admitted that before the round he did not believe he could win a major and did not relax until the job was almost complete.

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“I hit my tee shot on 18 and I knew I was home and hosed,” added Lowry, who says the Claret Jug will live on his kitchen table.

“I knew I was going to have to fight to the very end, and I did. I let myself think about it on 17, enjoy it. But you’re still hitting shots. It’s links golf, there are bunkers, rough, all sorts can happen out there.

“I let myself really, really enjoy it going down 18. It was incredible. The crowd was going wild singing ‘ole ole’. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.

“I tried to soak it in as much as I could. It was hard because it was a very surreal experience going down there.”

Lowry was cheered on by fans from all over the island and says many friends made the last-minute trip from the Republic of Ireland to see him when it became clear he would be leading in the final round.

“It’s huge for Irish golf. It’s big for Irish sport. People will have watched golf that never watched golf before,” he said.

“I’m home now. To be able to win it at home where it was so easy for people to make the trip up to watch me, to be able to go out and celebrate with local people is just very nice.”

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Now he wants to use his maiden major success as a springboard to being picked for Europe to take on the United States at next year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

“The one thing you want to do is back up your success,” said Lowry. “In the short term I’m going to enjoy this.

“My big goal stills remains the same and that is to be on the plane going to Whistling Straits next year – hopefully that involves a couple of wins along the way.”

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