PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Shane Lowry made the 68 years between British Opens in Northern Ireland worth the wait.
The silver claret jug is staying on the Emerald Isle.
Lowry, the 32-year-old Irishman with stout nerves and a soft touch around the greens, endured the worst weather of the week and the Sunday pressure of a sellout crowd cheering him along to win the British Open by six shots at Royal Portrush.
Even as the rain stopped, the tears began flowing.
"I can't believe this is me standing here," Lowry said as he cradled golf's oldest trophy. "I can't believe this is mine."
Lowry closed with a 1-over 72, the first time since 1996 the Open champion was over par in the final round, and it was no less impressive. More difficult than the rain was wind strong enough to break an umbrella. Lowry began making bogeys in the middle of the round without losing ground. No one from the last 12 groups broke par. And no one got closer than three shots all day of Lowry, who finished at 15-under 269.
Thousands of fans who filled these links off the North Atlantic began to celebrate when Lowry, after his fourth bogey in seven holes, rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to stretch his lead to six with three holes to play.
Lowry's smile got wider with every hole coming in.
When his approach to the 18th was just on the fringe, he stretched out his arms, hugging caddie Bo Martin. The loudest cheer of a raucous week was for a tap-in par that made Lowry a major champion.
Tommy Fleetwood had to settle for his second runner-up finish in a major. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the opening hole that would have cut the deficit to two, and he missed a 5-footer for par on the third hole. His hopes ended with a double bogey from the bunker and the rough, and he closed with a 74.
Royal Portrush last hosted the British Open in 1951, the only time it had been outside Scotland and England.