Shane Lowry was finding it hard to come to terms with his achievement after his dominant six-shot Open Championship victory at Royal Portrush.
- -15 Lowry
- -9 Fleetwood
- -7 Finau
- -6 Koekpa, Westwood
- -5 Willett, Fowler, MacIntyre, Hatton
- -4 Reed
"I can't believe it. This is not going to sink in for a few days," Lowry said. "Walking down 18 I could not believe this was happening to me. I feel like I am in an out-of-body experience. I was so calm.
"I didn't even know this morning if I was good enough to win a major. The people around me really believed which helped a lot. Times in the past when I was down on myself my coach Neil (Manchip) always said I was going to win one. At least one he said."
Lowry paid special tribute to his caddie Bo Martin for keeping him grounded during the final round as his mind understandably wandered to thoughts of lifting the Claret Jug.
"I talked to Bo a lot today, telling him I can't stop thinking about winning and holding the Claret Jug," Lowry added. "This was after six or seven holes and he was like 'stay with me', he kept talking in my ear.
"I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and what it's going to feel like then. It's going to be incredible."
It was also a remarkable turnaround for a man who'd missed the last four cuts in the Open, including last year at Carnoustie when he played so badly in the first round he sacked his long-term caddie and broke down in tears.
"That just shows how fickle golf is," Lowry said. "I sat in the car park in Carnoustie on the Thursday 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 I suppose."
Dominant Lowry prevails at Portrush
Lowry slept on a four-shot overnight lead, the same lead he squandered at the US Open in 2016, and he made a nervous start on the first hole when pulling his tee-shot after an ear-splitting reception from the home crowd.
Playing partner Tommy Fleetwood was his nearest challenger and it was a match-race between the two throughout the day, but the Englishman missed a short putt on the first to apply huge early pressure and could not lay a glove on the Irishman after that.
Miserable conditions saw the tee times moved forward in Northern Ireland, and that may have helped Lowry by giving him less time to let his thoughts wander to lifting the Claret Jug in front of an adoring Irish crowd.
After a first-hole wobble, he was all business as he played the situation and conditions perfectly to ensure he was not blown away by the wind and driving rain, nor the magnitude of having the Open at his mercy.
Lowry shows a maturity after magic
After three sparkling rounds of magic, Lowry knew it would be a much tougher assignment under dreadful weather at times and with the weight of the island of Ireland on his shoulders, as they badly wanted a home champion.
Fleetwood played well himself but, as with the rest of the week, missed putts cost him at crucial times and he could just not get close enough to put any severe pressure on Lowry, who was able to calmly navigate his way around Portrush's treacherous 18 holes to finish with a one-over 72 and a 15-under total that was far too good for the rest of the field.
Fleetwood's three-over 74 was still good enough for a two-shot cushion in second place over Tony Finau, who delivered another solid major performance with a level-par round of 71 giving him third place outright.
Lee Westwood hit three birdies in his first five holes to threaten to come from miles back and challenge the leading duo, but he could add just one more birdie from then on to eventually sign for a 73 and finish joint-fourth alongside Brooks Koepka.
The dominant force of recent majors was chasing history when looking to become the first modern era golfer to finish in the top two in a single year's four majors, but he had a woeful start with four straight bogeys putting him out of contention immediately. It was a real grind for the American from then on, with his mood not helped by playing partner JB Holmes' snail-like pace of play.
There was a silver lining for Westwood falling short though, with his resurgence helping him to qualify for next year's Masters at Augusta after missing the last two tournaments.
Last year's Open champion Francesco Molinari came from nowhere to finish in a tie for 11th with his five-under the best round of the day, but it came too late for him to have any real say on the destination of the Claret Jug.
That honour came to Lowry, as it seemed at the start of the day and never really looked like going anywhere else, bar the first green, and he answered every challenge thrown at him by a Royal Portrush course flexing its muscles for the final day.
Ten years after Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur, in similar conditions, he this time thrilled the home crowd with a victory in the big one upon its return after a 68-year absence.