PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Ireland’s Shane Lowry was happy to fly in under the radar as he grabbed the early clubhouse lead at the British Open on Thursday, leaving several home favourites in the shade.
The bearded 32-year-old signed for a four-under 67 around the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush as the Open returned to Northern Ireland for the first time for 68 years.
Lowry, who lives south of the border in Ireland’s County Offaly, received loud support from the packed galleries but perhaps not to the same decibel-level as Northern Ireland’s trio of major champions Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Portrush resident Darren Clarke.
Playing with former winner Phil Mickelson, who had a day to forget with a 76, Lowry posted a tough target for the later starters, collecting five birdies in his first 12 holes and going agonisingly close to more on 14, 15, 16 and 17.
Lowry, runner-up at the 2016 US Open, has missed four successive cuts at the British Open since his best finish in 2014, when he was tied ninth at Royal Liverpool.
But he has put himself in a strong position to make a run.
“I thoroughly enjoyed today. The crowds are unbelievable and cheered on every tee box, and every green is such a special feeling,” he told reporters.
“I tried to enjoy that as much as I can, while I was doing my work and then getting down to business. It’s going to be an exciting few days ahead. I hope I can give them something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon.
“I feel like for me I can come here a little more under the radar than the other guys. G-Mac is from here, he grew up here.
“Rory is an hour down the road and obviously had some great times here. And Darren lives here now.”