After two years of waiting to defend his British Open title, Shane Lowry finally got his chance but nerves got the better of the Irish in a shaky opening round of one over 71 at Royal St George’s, England.
Lowry, who won his only major in front of a partisan crowd at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019 before the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bogeyed his first two holes before a birdie on the sixth to make the turn at 36. close .
The 34-year-old made up for it with consecutive birdies on the 16th and 17th, but ended his round in frustration, found a fairway bunker and dropped a stroke on the par-four 18th.
He was 74th drawn.
“Disappointed to be the last to bogey,” Lowry said.
“I think if I had made the last par and shot I would have been pretty happy to have gone home this afternoon, but I didn’t.
“I didn’t hit a lot of fairways with my driver. Playing out of the rough on this course is not the place.”
While Lowry struggled to keep the ball out of the treacherous rough, play partner Louis Oosthuizen found just the right spots on the pitch in a flawless 64 to secure the lead with a first-round shot.
“I haven’t played my best golf. But then you play with Louis, who shoots sixes and plays great. It probably gives you a little bit different,” said Lowry, who is on the driving range looking for improvements.
“I fought hard. I was quite proud of myself. For tomorrow.”
Darren Clarke, who won in 2011 when the Open was last held in Sandwich, also finished a one-over and sat next to Lowry on the leaderboard.
The 52-year-old Northern Irish received a rousing reception as a former champion at the opening tee and carded two birdies and three bogeys in an upside-down opening round.
“My ball flight was the best I’ve probably had in the last month or so,” said Clarke, who has played on the senior course, the PGA Tour Champions, since 2018.
“It was wonderful. The welcome I got on the first tee and fairway was great.
“There is something special to win and it is even more special to go back to the place where you won it before.”