PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – From an opening-round 67 to the final walk down the 18th fairway Sunday at Royal Portrush, Irishman Shane Lowry embarked on a dizzying emotional journey en route to his storybook victory at the British Open.
Best of all, he brought everyone along for the ride with candid remarks and a relatable perspective in post-round press conferences rich with humor, devoid of clichés.
That was especially true after Lowry shot 63 to build a four-shot lead entering Sunday. He saw the challenge for what it was and gave a real answer regarding his mindset on the eve of the final round.
“Obviously I’ll go to bed thinking about holding the Claret Jug,” Lowry said Saturday night. “It’s only natural, isn’t it? We’re human. We’re not robots. We can’t not think about things. And when you try not to think about something you end up thinking about it more, so you might as well talk about it.”
Lowry needed someone to talk to Sunday afternoon.
He knew he was lucky to escape the first hole without significant damage, dropping just one shot to Tommy Fleetwood by making a bogey putt of significant length. All afternoon he held his lead, and all afternoon thoughts persisted about how bad it would hurt to see it slip away in front of his countrymen. Some of them were faces he recognized from back home in Clara, County Offaly.
Enter caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.
“He was unbelievable today,” Lowry said. “He kept on my back all day, kept talking to me, he kept in my ear. I kept on telling him now nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up. All I could think about was walking down 18 with a four- or five-shot lead. And lucky I got to do that.”
It was almost exactly one year ago when Lowry split with long-time caddie Dermot Byrne in the middle of the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie. His game and his mindset were not in a good place then.
Martin was one of the first loopers he thought of as a potential replacement and the two began working together a few months later at the Portugal Masters. Safe to say it’s paid off for both parties.
“He’s just, like, he’s brought a new lease on life to me,” Lowry said. “… He was great at keeping me in the moment today. He’s been great for me. Like I said, you see my results since then have been good.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Martin – his wife gave birth to a baby boy just two weeks ago.
“(Martin’s wife) drove up today and his little boy was here,” Lowry said. “It was amazing. I’ve known Bo for a long time. He’s now become a very good friend of mine. And to be able to share it with someone so close was very special, yeah.”