As the saying goes, what a difference a year makes.
Over the weekend, Shane Lowry won his first ever major championship with victory at The Open in Portrush, Co Antrim.
The Offaly man went into the final day with a four-shot lead over his nearest challenger, Tommy Fleetwood, and by the 18th hole, that was extended to six shots as the English man fell away.
In one of the greatest Irish sporting achievements in recent times, Lowry lifted the Claret Jug aloft with his parents, wife and two-year-old daughter watching on while Irish fans everywhere rejoiced.
The scenes were in stark comparison to those of 2018 when Lowry found the Open Championship a rather difficult experience.
Going into that tournament, he was ranked 90th in the world and confidence was low. After scoring an opening round of 74, he parted ways with his long-time caddy and friend, Dermot Byrne.
“Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner,” Lowry said following Sunday’s victory.
“That’s why you need to remind yourself, and you need other people there to remind you, you need to fight through the bad times.
“I sat in the car park in Carnoustie, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. Golf wasn’t my friend at the time. It was something that had become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes.”
Lowry joins an illustrious list of Irish golfers who have won major championships alongside Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.
While at times it was painful, watching their success was what drove the Clara man to aim high and believe that he could also lift the Claret Jug. He also credited his friendship with Ryder Cup 2020 captain Harrington with contributing to his accomplishment.
“I used to curse them an awful lot in the past because that’s all anybody wanted to know about in Ireland because they were winning so many majors. When are you going to win one? Winning regular events wasn’t good enough for anyone.”
“Look, I’m Irish. I grew up holing putts back home to win the Open. It was always the Open, wasn’t it? I watched Paddy win his two Opens. I didn’t even know him back then. I’m obviously very good friends with him.
“To have him there on the 18th, like you go into Paddy’s house and the Claret Jug is sitting on the kitchen table, and I’m going to have one on my kitchen table, as well. I said that to him, as well, that’s going to be quite nice.”