British Open: Lowry leads winners, Stanley and Schauffele among losers at Royal Portrush

Matt Dunham/AP

British Open: Lowry leads winners, Stanley and Schauffele among losers at Royal Portrush

2019 British Open

British Open: Lowry leads winners, Stanley and Schauffele among losers at Royal Portrush

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland—Far more winners emerged in a wildly successful British Open week at Royal Portrush, starting with the golf course.

Winners

Royal Portrush – While St. Andrews has permanent elite status as the most incredible venue in all of golf — what other sport can contest a modern championship on the place where it all started? — Portrush may just be the R&A’s second finest British Open course. There are no weak holes, a nearly perfect blend of shot shapes, and just enough offbeat design features to exude links charm without annoying today’s fairness-obsessed players. Oh, and it’s visually stunning.

Shane Lowry – The least-scrutinized of the Irish hopefuls turned in a life-changing, dominating performance. His third-round 63 will go down as one of the best in this or any major championship and on the list of great Irish golf victories, he now has the most incredible of them all to his name.

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R&A – They took their time returning to Portrush, then made the club add two new holes on a course already ranked on every world top 20 list. While Xander Schauffele isn’t a fan of the host organization (see Losers below), the R&A has set the stage for a swifter return expected by all. A contract says two more playings must happen here before 2040, and no one will be surprised if that obligation is fulfilled by 2037.

MORE: When will The Open return to Portrush?

Northern Ireland – Not only did the passionate locals validate pre-event projections in terms of attendance—second most tickets sold, all-time—everyone from hole marshals to local restaurants provided warm hospitality and good vibes. The children here got a special shout-out from Tiger Woods for their extreme courtesy. Whatever annoyances caused by the lousy weather was forgotten in this special part of the world.

Rory McIlroy – After a disastrous opening quadruple bogey, a missed tap-in and overall disastrous opening-round 79, the Northern Irishman battled valiantly to miss the cut by one. The late Friday performance earned him plaudits across the globe and added to his already robust fan base. While his opener here adds to the view McIlroy struggles in first rounds, he’s been better starting out in majors the last two years, going 69-80-69-70-73-72-68-79.

Losers

Xander Schauffele – The world No. 11 made a total mess of a failed driver test, dragging the R&A and sponsor Callaway down for no good reason. In the high tech world of golf equipment where clubs are adjusted and massaged, it’s not a huge shock a driver failed a random test. The press and fans would never have known until Schauffele vented about trying to find a new driver following a second-round 65. Fueled by outrage after a fellow player jokingly heckled him, Schauffele lost sight of how rampantly golf’s traveling circus gossips.

Guinness and Irish Whiskey – They were flowing off the property, but R&A contracts with other purveyors kept the signature beverages out of the Royal Portrush fan experience.

On-Course WiFi – The R&A unveiled cutting edge internet connectivity throughout the course in 2014 and unfortunately as more devices are logging in, the service deteriorated to a new low at Portrush. The ineffectiveness was especially painful given that fans can no longer purchase radios to listen in on the outstanding broadcast here, instead asked to listen via an app that relies on Wifi and drains batteries.

Kyle Stanley – The American held his ground on accusations that he did not yell “FORE!” on a wayward tee shot that struck, but did not injure, the mother of playing partner Robert MacIntyre’s caddie. As Stanley dug in and drew the attention of the tabloids, some fans even suggested pros must face fines or penalty strokes for not warning fans of an incoming ball. (Imagine those replay reviews.) It’s very simple going forward, Kyle: at the first sign of trouble, “FORE!” is your friend. No one ever lost a golf tournament for yelling the magic word.

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