Irish sporting fans at home and abroad rejoiced as Shane Lowry knocked in his final putt in Portrush on Sunday to win his first-ever major championship.
It was a sensational victory for the Offaly man after a strong performance across the four days saw him finish with a six-shot lead over his nearest challenger, Tommy Fleetwood.
Lowry joins an illustrious list of Irish golfers to win a major championship alongside Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke in what was the biggest achievement of his career to date.
While Irish supporters will revel in the victory for some time to come, international media were also quick to praise the exploits of the 32-year-old.
The New York Times commended Lowry for making his victory “look as natural and easy as his light-up-the-clubhouse grin”, while they also labelled the win as a “unifying moment for the Irish”.
“The Open Championship had not been held on the island of Ireland since Royal Portrush staged it in 1951, but Lowry navigated the long-awaited opportunity brilliantly in all kinds of weather.
“As the thunderous support on Saturday and Sunday made clear, this was a unifying moment for the Irish even if the locals would surely have found a victory by a Northern Irish star like Rory McIlroy or McDowell to be the perfect ending.
“Still, it was quite a symbolic finish and quite a breakthrough moment for Lowry, whose talent has been widely apparent since he won the Irish Open as an amateur in similarly nasty weather in 2009.
“It was the chance of a lifetime, and Lowry, who grew up a few hours’ drive south in Clara, did not squander it.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post followed the journey of Lowry from heartbreak in Carnoustie this time 12 months ago to the euphoric scenes in terrible conditions in Portrush.
“A happy story played out in sad-story weather on an exuberant Sunday of good spirits and other spirits at Royal Portrush. It reiterated the time-honored idea that heartbreak plus time can equal strength. It retold of golf’s mad fickleness in that it happened 12 months after — oh, gosh — an Irish golfer wept in a Scottish car park.
“Somehow that same Irish golfer, 32-year-old Shane Lowry, walked the 72nd hole amid delirious cheering with a six-shot lead and tranquil nerve endings and said, “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.” The first British Open in Northern Ireland in 68 years had been an unmitigated smash, reaping raves for its course, its town and its coastline.
“Now it ushered to the claret jug a winner whose popularity ricocheted all through the 7,344-yard way, a runaway winner at 15 under par who learned from fumbling a four-shot lead with 18 holes to play at the 2016 U.S. Open, a winner 367 days removed from crying over what became a missed cut at Carnoustie.
“Now he smiled from here to Clara, his town in County Offaly four driving hours south across the blessedly soft border. A man with a full-on beard lived his childhood daydream, and golf had wrung from him a happiness only a wretch could begrudge.”
Down Under, The Sydney Morning Herald focused on the fact that Lowry’s win “ended American hopes of a clean sweep of the year’s majors” while The Australian complimented the Clara man on giving “a masterclass in taming the wild conditions.”
“Lowry enjoyed the loud cheers and chants of “Ole, ole, ole” from the rain-soaked audience, walking to the 18th tee and knowing he could completely stuff up the final hole and still win. Showing no fear or jitters, Lowry’s approach shot was fine and a 10m putt finished close enough for a final tap in for par.
“An Irishman has won the British Open, held in rain-soaked Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years. As the green isle shed tears of joy, the Irish spilled Guinness in wild celebration.”