Shane Lowry says he will be “disappointed” to give back the Claret Jug when his extended reign as Open champion comes to an end in just under two months’ time.
The Irishman has had the most famous silverware in the game in his possession for an extra 12 months, a consequence of the COVID-19 enforced cancellation of last year’s championship.
As you might expect, the 34-year-old has enjoyed his time with the trophy – perhaps a little too much, on occasion.
Insisting it will be “coming back nice and shiny”, Lowry added that he has had one or two dicey moments with the Claret Jug since his victory at Royal Portrush in July 2019.
“It has been sent back to be straightened once, yes,” he admitted. “We actually noticed going through the airport, and I noticed on the airport scanner that there was a little bit of a bend in it.”
Fortunately, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers saw the funny side, adding that he has heard similar confessions over the years.
“When Zach [Johnson] returned the trophy he said, ‘I have to apologise’,” said Slumbers. “He said he did have to take it to be repaired. But as I took it into the shop in Florida, the silversmith who was behind the counter said, ‘Oh, I've seen this twice before.’”
A successful title defence at Royal St George’s will ensure Lowry gets to keep the trophy for at least another year and, suffice to say, he’s determined to make that happen.
“We’ve had an amazing time with it,” he added. “It's funny, I did put a few drinks in it but not that much. We filled it a couple of times afterwards, and then we actually had a nice dinner with all my team that Christmas that we drink some nice wine out of it.
“There’s one story I remember. I had the Claret Jug with me at the Race to Dubai at the end of 2019 and I was wheeling it through the hotel, and this guy was there and he stopped me, and he's like, ‘Is that the Claret Jug?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah’, and we started to talk.
“He begged me to see it, so I opened up the box and I showed him and he held the Claret Jug and he started to cry because he was holding the Claret Jug.
“That's what that trophy means to people who love golf.
“Just to have it in my possession for that length of time and being able to kind of share it with all my friends and family and other people has been just incredible.”