Cheers to a great major championship season, friends. The first three days at Royal Portrush were calm affairs, filled with low scores. Sunday… was not. Wind gusts and sideways rain drove scores over par during the final round of the Open Championship. But Shane Lowry didn’t allow the elements to affect him. The Irishman shot a final-round 72 to win the Open, his first career major championship title. 148th Open Championship Leaderboard
Champion golfer of the year
Shane Lowry’s round got off to a rocky start. A nervy 1st-hole bogey and poor drive on the 2nd appeared to open the door for a competitive Sunday. Lowry then rattled off three birdies in four holes, seemingly ending the tournament. His four bogeys over his next seven might have created some doubt in another tournament, but the elements today caused everyone else to lose shots. Lowry birdied the 15th hole, made pars on 16 and 17, and had a six-shot lead going into 18. Alongside caddie Bo Martin, Lowry took the iconic walk into the crowd surrounding the 18th green. He two-putted for par, securing his first career major championship.
It has been a rough couple of years for Shane Lowry. After blowing a four-shot lead at the 2016 U.S. Open, he didn’t win again until earlier this year in Abu Dhabi. In 2019, Lowry notched four top 10s on the PGA Tour before his Open victory. He has now won the Irish Amateur, the Irish Open (as an amateur), and the Open Championship in Northern Ireland—a career for which almost any Irish golfer would kill.
Starting the day four shots off the lead, Tommy Fleetwood knew he needed to play a special round to catch Shane Lowry. It wasn’t meant to be. The Englishman made three bogeys and a double on his way to a 74. His chances were bleak for most of the day, but his double bogey on the 14th hole sealed the deal. Fleetwood ultimately finished six shots behind Lowry, his second career runner-up in a major championship.
Despite his recent success, Tommy lad is still searching for his first major. He has come close three times now, registering three top-four finishes in the past three seasons. One of the world’s premier ball-strikers, Fleetwood should break through in a major soon. But he will have to wait until 2020 for his next chance.
The legend continues – It wasn’t the result Brooks Koepka was looking for, but the four-time major champion still managed a T-4 at Royal Portrush. Four straight bogeys to open his final round derailed any chance Koepka had at making a run. Still, he became the fourth player in the modern era to finish inside the top 10 in all four majors in a season, joining Tiger, Jack, and Jordan. (Justin Ray)
Just enough – Lee Westwood still has not won a major championship, but he earned a consolation prize on Sunday. Westy shot a final-round 73, earning himself a T-4 finish and an invitation to the 2020 Masters Tournament. Westwood played remarkable golf for most of the weekend, earning his first top 10 at the Open since 2013. He now has 12 top fives at majors without a win, one shy of Harry Cooper’s all-time record. (Justin Ray)
I’m freeee, free fallin’- Sunday was a day to forget for J. B. Holmes. The 18- and 36-hole leader shot 87 to finish T-67. Holmes had to re-tee on the 1st after hitting his opening tee shot out of bounds, and his round only got worse from there. Lucky for us, his antics brought this classic reaction from Brooks Koepka… as well as this *alleged* incident.
Steady Eddy – The only player from the final 10 games to shoot 71 or better was Tony Finau. He started the day too far back to make a run at the lead, but Finau put together a solid round on Sunday. He now has five top 10s in his last eight majors.
“Thank you, Mr. Colt”
It was delightful to watch approaches bound, roll, and swerve over the contours on and around Harry Colt’s greens at Royal Portrush. In this article, Garrett Morrison reveals how and why Colt advocated for undulating greens and surrounds in a time when not everyone embraced that style of design. Full story
Shotgun Start: The “fat lad’s” triumph, Koepka’s timekeeping, and Westy’s return to Augusta
We react to the final round of the men’s major season, celebrating Shane Lowry’s triumph at Royal Portrush. We relay a fun story about Lowry coming up in Irish junior golf in the shadow of superstar Rory McIlroy and then review his work from the weekend to win the Open. We also consider the hot take that this was actually a bad year for major Sundays. Then we get to Lee Westwood’s day of yippy putts and leaderboard watching as he positioned himself for a spot at his happy hunting ground in Augusta. We review who was “most disappointing” from the group of potential chasers, hitting on Tommy Fleetwood’s underwhelming day, Brooksy stuck in neutral, and, uh, J.B. Holmes’s implosion. The Holmes-Koepka pace of play dynamic is given a full account. We hand out a final grade for this Open and then discuss the one thing from the week that we think may change pro golf for generations. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.
On the links
A weekly round-up of the golf journalism that caught our eyes in the past week…
Since Open Championship week is maybe the best week of the year for golf writing, we have a few more links than usual to share with you.
Eamon Lynch, Golfweek
- “The Open Championship at Portrush may be the only thing Northern Ireland can agree on”
- The Open at Portrush was a home game for Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, and he took advantage. Starting with a moving yet unsentimental Monday piece on the “brackish pride” of Northern Ireland, Lynch churned out gem after gem about the place, its people, their history, and the golfers they claim as their own. He is one of our favorite golf columnists, and this week showed him at his best.
Sean Martin, PGATour.com
- “Shane Lowry’s home club reacts as he wins The Open”
- Smartin took a trip down to County Offaly, Ireland, to watch the final round of the Open from Shane Lowry’s home club. It was quite a party, from the sounds of it, and this is quite a piece. He was not, however, the only golf journo there; Michael Bamberger also wrote about the scene, Bambergerishly.
John Huggan, Golfworld
- “Shane Lowry, the talented ‘little fat lad with glasses’ to champion golfer of the year”
- Huggan opens this post-championship game story with a jewel of an anecdote about legendary swing coach Pete Cowen commenting on two prospects from the Irish Boys team: a young Rory McIlroy and “a little fat lad with glasses” named Shane Lowry.
Geoff Shackelford, Golfweek
- “Meadow Club superintendent Sean Tully is one of Portrush’s expert bunker rakers”
- Shackelford offers a charming profile of Friend of TFE Sean Tully, Meadow Club superintendent and deeply knowledgeable historian of golf architecture. This week Tully served as a bunker raker at the Open.
Will Bardwell, Lying Four
- “Coffee, a Dark House, and the Open”
- If you’re an American golf tragic, you’ll feel this one in your soul: an ode to the solitary yet communal pleasures of coffee golf.
Preston Summerhays, of the golfing Summerhayses, won the U.S. Junior Amateur on Saturday, defeating Bo Jin of China 2&1 in the 36-hole final match at Inverness Club. Scoring
On the Korn Ferry Tour, Oklahoma State alum Kristoffer Ventura captured his second win in seven events. Watch out for this 24-year-old on the PGA Tour next year. Pinnacle Bank Championship Presented by Chevrolet Leaderboard
After a duel with Kelly Kraft, Jim Herman pulled out the victory at the opposite-field Barbasol Championship. Leaderboard
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Hideki Matsuyama will be taking part in a skins game in Japan. ESPN’s Bob Harig reported that the game will take place on October 21, a few days prior to the Zozo Championship. Full Story
Check out our limited edition print of “the Battle at North Berwick” in our pro shop. For the fascinating background on this match between the Morrises (Old and Young Tom) and the Parks (Willie and Mungo), read Garrett Morrison’s article.