Sunday 25 September 2016

Shane's home club members so proud but he falls short in bid for US Open

Eoghan McConnell and Martin Grant

Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30

Shane Lowry after finishing the final round of the US Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania Photo: Charlie Riedel/PA
Shane Lowry after finishing the final round of the US Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania Photo: Charlie Riedel/PA

Members of Shane Lowry's home club, Esker Hills in Co Offaly, looked on anxiously as the Clara man narrowly missed out on US Open glory in the early hours of this morning.

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Hushed silences were followed by cheers, applause and chanting as Shane battled it out with Dustin Johnson in the tense final round, but in the end it was the American who claimed the title with a score of four under par.

Sean Nolan and Niall Heffernan Photo: Doug O'Connor
Sean Nolan and Niall Heffernan Photo: Doug O'Connor

Lowry was three shots back in joint second, after a round of six over par.

Despite the obvious disappointment, there was huge praise for Lowry among the large crowd of locals who gathered to enjoy the festive atmosphere and cheer on the 29-year-old.

One fan was Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen. "He's a great guy. He just happens to be a member of the community and is a good golfer," Mr Cowen remarked of his fellow Clara man.

"He's one of our own and it's great to be part of the journey that he is taking and will ultimately lead to a major, if not a few of them," he said.

Showing their support at Esker Hills Golf Club were Shane and Aaron Wynne, Caroline Rickard, Adrienne Wynne, Darren Hall, and Shannon and Chloe Wynne Photo: Doug O'Connor
Showing their support at Esker Hills Golf Club were Shane and Aaron Wynne, Caroline Rickard, Adrienne Wynne, Darren Hall, and Shannon and Chloe Wynne Photo: Doug O'Connor

Shane's father Brendan and brother Alan were in the US. His mother Bridget was at home in Offaly and had been in Esker Hills earlier yesterday, but she decided to go home to watch the golf alone. Esker Hills Club Director Donal Molloy said: "Bridgie always adjourns for home when it gets tense."

Mr Molloy said Shane's career has been moving along nicely. "The Irish Open was a big one, it was kind of a gradual thing," he remarked. He cited Shane's victories in the Portuguese Masters and the win at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in the US, "that was huge" he said. "This is a different level altogether," he added.

Shane continues to support Esker Hills, where he and his father Brendan sponsor the junior competitions.

"He attends the presentation and he presents prizes, which is like heaven to the youngsters. He spends a few hours with them. He is just such a nice guy," said Mr Molloy. "He is loved by the whole country, he just has that easy-going personality," he said.

TD Barry Cowen with his children Barry, Gemma, Lorcan, his niece Meadhbh, sister in law Mary, wife Mary and daughter Aoibhe Photo: Doug O'Connor
TD Barry Cowen with his children Barry, Gemma, Lorcan, his niece Meadhbh, sister in law Mary, wife Mary and daughter Aoibhe Photo: Doug O'Connor

It was not just Esker Hills and Offaly who would savour a major win by Shane, Mr Molloy said yesterday afternoon.

"The whole country would rejoice in it," he said.

Another club member, Paddy Murphy recalled how Shane was playing from scratch at the age of 15. "He is some talent," he remarked.

Hundreds of family and friends flocked to the club yesterday in anticipation as Lowry took a four-shot lead into the final round.

Esker Hills club manager Ray Molloy, Men's captain Greg Odd, and Lady Captain Deirdre Molloy Photo: Doug O'Connor
Esker Hills club manager Ray Molloy, Men's captain Greg Odd, and Lady Captain Deirdre Molloy Photo: Doug O'Connor

As locals watched the action unfold, thoughts turned to the late Christy O'Connor Jnr, who sadly passed away aged 67 while on holidays in Tenerife earlier this year. According to the club's manager, Ray Molloy, O'Connor Jnr would have been proud of Lowry's achievements.

"Christy designed the Esker course 20 years ago. We're a small club with a proud history and tradition. I know Christy is supporting Shane every step," he said.

Greg Odd, the captain of Lowry's local club, was full of nervous energy last night.

"Whenever Shane plays, we are all excited. We are a small county and for him to move from here to what he has been doing is miraculous," said a beaming Greg.

John Cullen, who had the pleasure of putting Shane on his first junior team, said he gives a lot back to the community. "He is a hell of a player and an even greater person. He has a huge amount of time for the juniors and he's just a pure gentleman.

"He doesn't lock himself away, he is there and always available," the coach said.

Irish Independent

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