Golf: Lowry will always be a national hero in Ireland: McIlroy

Irish golfer and first-time major champion Shane Lowry holds up the Claret Jug during a homecoming event after winning the British Open. PHOTO: DPA

MEMPHIS (REUTERS) - Rory McIlroy congratulated Shane Lowry and told him that his life would never be the same again after he was catapulted to national hero status in Ireland after winning the British Open last Sunday (July 21).

Four-time Major champion McIlroy missed the cut by a shot at Royal Portrush, and was already back in Florida moving into a new house when Irishman Lowry completed a fairy tale ending by lifting the Claret Jug in the first Open held in Northern Ireland since 1951.

"He texted me on Friday night and gave me a couple of words of encouragement," McIlroy said on Wednesday (July 24), on the eve of the World Golf Championships-St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

"He said 'I'll see you in Memphis' and I said 'I hope I don't see you in Memphis because hopefully you're still drinking out of the Claret Jug', and that came to fruition, which is nice."

As predicted, Lowry pulled out of this week's event at TPC Southwind to savour his victory at home.

McIlroy instead is looking forward to buying Lowry dinner when they finally catch up in a fortnight at the Northern Trust tournament at Liberty National, just across the water from New York.

"I texted him straight after (he won). I said 'it's going to change your life'. It is a life-changer, and especially doing it there at Portrush. He's going to be a national hero for the rest of his life. I'm just so happy for him."

Northern Irishman McIlroy also expressed satisfaction with the way the Open was played without any major hitches, and sees no reason why it will not return to Portrush within the next decade.

"I don't think they put a foot wrong," he said. "The scenes on Sunday, with Shane winning it was a fairy tale ending.

"To see all the people running down the final fairway and the marshals having to create a wall for a barricade, it was unbelievable.

"I think it was a great showcase for our country and from what I'm hearing the Open will go back to Portrush in maybe the next eight or 10 years."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday (July 24) that he felt pride in the way that seemingly all of the country celebrated Lowry's victory.

"We take things very personally in Ireland and Shane's win was a win for the whole country," said three-time Major champion Harrington, who will compete at the PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship in Nevada.

"We saw the success of the Open in Royal Portrush and Shane winning as a success for everybody in our small little island.

"We like to punch above our weight in Ireland, winning big things like that and doing incredible stuff like that. We take it to heart (and) the whole country gets behind it."

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