Irish golf victory triggers geography meltdown for sports media
Irish golf victory triggers geography meltdown for sports media


A victory by Ireland’s Shane Lowry in a major golfing event in County Antrim has been hailed as a major triumph for Irish golf, but has exposed the dire knowledge of geography among some members of the British sports media.

Much of the problem lay in the fact that the event, the ‘British Open’, was being held in the north of Ireland. The location of the annual golf competition, one of the biggest in the global golfing calendar and one of the four major championships of golf, was announced four years ago as part of an effort to boost the area’s economy and to generate a sense of normalisation in the aftermath of the peace process.

But the continuing disputed nature of the area was made clear when, at the height of the competition, a loyalist band paraded through the town.

Sky commentator and English professional golfer Laura Davies embarrassed herself on global TV when she referring to Mr Lowry, from the unquestionably Irish heartland of County Offaly, as “British”. Gins and Tonics were spilled across Ireland when Davies added that it “would be lovely... to see a British winner of The Open.”

Sports presenter Gary Lineker also claimed Rory McIlroy, another well known golfer from County Down, is British. McIlroy has represented Ireland on several occasions and will do so again at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The disease spread to some politicians as well. Independent Unionist Councillor Henry Reilly took things to another level when he referred to Lowry as “a British Isles golfer”.

But there was no identity crisis felt by the Clara man, who was happily cheered to the 18th green by scores of tricolour-waving supporters singing the anthemic ‘Fields of Athenry’.

Despite some suggestions in the media that he benefited from traditional Irish summer weather and shamrock-laced fairways, he won the competition by a wide margin, six shots clear of his nearest rival, England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

Lowry’s father, Brendan, a celebrated Gaelic footballer and All-Ireland winner with Offaly in 1982, was handed the trophy by his son on the 18th green.

Brendan Lowry described the scenes as “mayhem” as thousands of fans charged down the fairway to savour the final moments of the Open’s return to Portrush after 68 years.

“Padraig Harrington came in and he was like, ‘Would you all stop crying’. That’s what he said, everybody was crying,” he said.

“That’s what he dreamed about, like any young sportsman when they take it up they dream of things like that.

“What about winning the British Open in Ireland - you can’t dream it”.

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