Like many major sporting events last year, The Open was cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe.
However, the good news is that the major is going to go ahead this year, taking place at Royal St George’s in Kent for the first time in 10 years, and it’s hoped that around 30,000 spectators can take to the course on each of the four days.
Of course, with it being the only major golf tournament on British soil, it is always nice to see someone from the United Kingdom or Ireland lifting the famous claret jug come the end of play on the Sunday, and this year Rory McIlroy looks like the most likely ‘home grown’ recipient – according to The Open odds.
So, with the 149th edition of The Open less than fortnight away, now seems like the perfect time to zone in and take a look back the last three British and Irish winners of the tournament. Read on to find out more!
2011 – Darren Clarke
Three years after Ireland’s Padraig Harrington impressively won back-to-back Opens, Northern Irishman Darren Clarke got a taste of what it feels like to be crowned a major champion.
At 42 years of age, and without a major title to that point, few would have tipped Clarke to be necking Guinness from the Claret Jug after some gruelling 72 holes at Royal St George’s. However, it was a deserved victory, with the Dungannon man taking the lead on the second day and holding on for a three-shot victory.
It was an emotional win for Clarke, who lost his wife Heather five years prior to his maiden major success. “In terms of what’s going through my heart, there’s obviously somebody who is watching down from up above there, and I know she’d be very proud of me. She’d probably be saying, I told you so,” Clarke said.
2014 – Rory McIlroy
The early to mid-2010s were a fantastic period for Northern Irish golfers, with Graeme McDowell winning the U.S. Open in 2010, whilst Rory McIlroy also burst onto the scene, winning the U.S. Open and the PGA Championships in 2011 and 2012.
There was further success for the Country Down-native at The Open in 2014, where he held off late advances from Rickie Fowler and Sergio García to win by two shots. In leading from start to finish at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy became just the sixth player to hold a sole lead for all of the 72 holes.
“It feels incredible,” McIlroy said. “It wasn’t easy – there were a few guys making runs at me and I just needed to stay focused. To win three legs of the Grand Slam at 25 is a pretty big achievement.”
2019 – Shane Lowry
With The Open returning to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, pressure was on for McIlroy to deliver in front of his home crowd. However, he rather disappointingly missed the cut.
Instead, it was Shane Lowry who prevailed. There was little to separate County Offaly-native from American J. B. Holmes in the opening two rounds. But Lowry pulled clear in the third round, opening up a four-shot lead from Tommy Fleetwood in second and six shots from Holmes in third.
The adverse weather conditions proved difficult for most players on the final day, but they hardly fazed Lowry, and even in carding one-over, he had done enough to secure a six-shot victory.
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