Shane-sational! Lowry wins The Open at Royal Portrush

Dhane Lowry Claret Jug

FINAL LEADERBOARD-15 Shane Lowry; -9 Tommy Fleetwood; -7 Tony Finau; -6 Lee Westwood, Brooks Koepka; -5 Robert MacIntyre, Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett, Rickie Fowler; -4 Patrick Reed

Smiling? Irish eyes are positively beaming after Shane Lowry won the 148th Open Championship

The Irishman carded a final round 72 to hold off playing partner Tommy Fleetwood and win his maiden major at Royal Portrush by six shots.

He becomes just the second golfer from the Republic of Ireland and the fifth Irishman in all to lift the Claret Jug, following in the footsteps of Fred Daly, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.

Tony Finau finished third on seven-under, two shots adrift of Fleetwood, with US PGA champion Brooks Koepka and former world No.1 Lee Westwood a further shot adrift in a tie for fourth.

• Koepka blasts Holmes over pace of play

• RATED! The Post-Open Report Card is in...

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre finished in a tie for sixth on his major debut alongside Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton and former Masters champion Danny Willett.

However, the day - indeed the week - belonged to Lowry.

"This feels like an out-of-body experience," the 32-year-old said afterwards. "I can't wait to wake up on Monday morning and find out what it's going to feel like then. It's just going to be incredible."

His elation was in stark contrast to the despair he felt in the same championship just 12 months ago.

At a loss with his game, his emotions boiled over after a miserable opening round at Carnoustie.

• WITB - Shane Lowry's Open-winning bag

"I sat in the car park on the Thursday and I cried,"he admitted. "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."

That's for sure.

• MacIntyre: This has been a dream come true

Lowry famously won the Irish Open in 2009 as an amateur. Since turning pro, he had won only three more times before this week: the 2012 Portugal Masters, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2015, and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the start of this year.

Despite his success, however, he admitted that he was plagued by self-doubt as recently as daybreak of the final round at Royal Portrush.

Lowry Locker Room

"I didn't even know this morning if I was good enough to win a major," he said. "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.

"It's going to take a few days to sink in."

• Where will next year's men's major take place?

Meanwhile, runner-up Fleetwood couldn't hide his disappointment after coming up short in his latest bid to win a first major.

"I'm obviously disappointed and a bit low," said the 28-year-old Englishman. "Those first few holes, when you start four back, are pretty crucial. I just didn't do a good enough job of pressing at that point."

With nobody else able to mount a charge in extremely tough conditions as the weather finally turned on the Causeway Coast, it was left to Lowry to take the winner's walk up 18 and leave town with the Claret Jug in tow.

The mother of all parties is about to begin.

Sorry, boss. Ireland won't be in work tomorrow.

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