Tears of joy at home golf club as Shane Lowry wins The Open

Supporters at Shane Lowry’s home golf club, Esker Hills Credit: Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA

Unbridled joy took hold at Shane Lowry’s home golf club of Esker Hills as the Offaly man was crowned The Open champion at Portrush.

There were tears, shouts and screams as the Clara native claimed his first major title.

Lowry’s father hailed his son’s Open Championship victory as the best birthday present he has ever given him.

Brendan Lowry, a celebrated Gaelic footballer, turned 60 days before Shane clinched the Claret Jug in famous scenes at Royal Portrush.

Mr Lowry said his own all-Ireland GAA crown, won with Co Offaly in 1982, paled in comparison with his son’s triumph at the Open’s historic return to the island of Ireland.

Brendan Lowry greets his son. Credit: PA

“Here’s no comparison at all when your son does that,” he said.

“It was my birthday last Friday, I was 60 last Friday, that’s why he handed me the thing and said ‘Happy birthday Dad’.”

The family had gathered at the back of the 18th green to watch as Lowry sealed his six-shot victory.

His father described the scenes as thousands of fans charged down the fairway to savour the moment as “mayhem” and “absolutely mental”.

Shane Lowry with the Claret Jug. Credit: PA

Shane Lowry’s grand-uncle Thomas Newman was among the supporters packed into the small club on the outskirts of Tullamore in Ireland.

He said his heart was in his mouth as Lowry inched closer to the win. Despite a strong lead, Mr Newman said he was still afraid until the final moments.

“He’s wonderful, he’s brilliant for this club,” he said.

“It’s an absolutely huge achievement.”

Mr Newman said the friends Lowry had made when starting at the club two decades ago were still his friends now.

“Every time he steps in the door here he is treated like God here. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

Supporters at Shane Lowry’s home golf club, Esker Hills in Co Offaly, celebrate his victory. Credit: PA

Mr Newman said it would be weeks before the win sinks in and he couldn’t wait for the homecoming.

“It’ll be massive, there’s no doubt about it. Whenever it does happen it will be fantastic,” he added.

Club manager Ray Molloy described it as “the biggest day ever at Esker Hills”.

“We’re just so pleased, we can’t believe it. Shane said he was pinching himself coming up the 18th fairway, I’m still pinching myself.

“It’s so important to a small community and a small golf course, for him to win the biggest golf tournament in the world this year and to win it so easily,” he said.

“And to think Shane came here as a young golfer and learned his skills on the hills of Esker.”

Mr Molloy said the small club, had about 220 members, and dozens had turned out to watch the final stages on a big screen in the club house.

“We’re just so proud of him, we cannot believe our luck,” he added.

Supporters at Shane Lowry’s home golf club, Esker Hills Golf. Credit: PA

“I get emotional when I think how far here in the small club to produce such a wonderful golfer.”

Mr Molloy’s daughter Michelle likened the atmosphere to an All-Ireland football final day.

“The jerseys are out, the banners are out, the colours are out,” she said. “There’s great excitement, and there’s great pride in Shane and how far he’s come.”

Ms Molloy said Lowry had gone from winning the Irish Open 10 years ago as an amateur to claiming The Open, “the creme de la creme of the majors”.

“It’s really exciting for us… Everyone is behind him. He’s part of the community,” she said. “He’s such a nice guy, it makes you want to support him even more.”

Shane Lowry celebrates with wife Wendy Honner and daughter. Credit: PA

Local man Eoin Flanagan, who played a round of golf with the 32-year old major winner after his Irish open win, said: “It’s huge for Ireland, it’s huge for Offaly. It’s a huge achievement… He’s up there on the world stage and he’s going to be a name in every household.”

Andy Hoctor, who plays in the club, said everyone knew Lowry and loved him.

As Lowry stepped up to take some of his final shots, Mr Hoctor said: “Everyone is so nervous, you’re nearly afraid to look at it. You couldn’t say enough to explain how great it is.”

Bridget Farrell was also among the crowd watching with her two girls.

She said: “The atmosphere is just electric, you can really get a sense of the emotion, the excitement, and just the thrill of it all.

“It’s just huge, huge excitement, and pride as well that someone from the local area, someone from this club is on the world stage.”