Amid joyous scenes on Royal Portrush’s closing hole, Steve Carroll joined the masses to celebrate Shane Lowry’s Open triumph

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of making that walk – past the famous giant yellow leaderboard – with the Claret Jug at our mercy?

But in our wildest imaginations, and despite the toil of a thousand childhood putts, none of us could have realised something as magnificent as this.

Because how can we even begin to understand the emotions Shane Lowry was feeling as he took that walk of kings?

It’s the path that’s been trodden by the titans of our sport, but few of them won in this fashion – willed on by an island united in their desire to see their hero bring it home.

It’s hard to put into words the scene on the 18th at Royal Portrush – the joy on the faces of thousands, the flags of north and south flying proudly and the noise that proved such an inspiration to Lowry over four days.

The chants were straight out of the Ryder Cup playbook but were imbued with such warmth and passion that even those who witnessed the scenes at Le Golf National – and I was one of them – must have been taken aback.

We’d all had time to prepare. The biblical weather that had drowned the faint chances of Justin Rose in a handicapper’s shank, that sent JB Holmes careering to an unfathomable 87, had made any hopes of closing the gap futile.

Barring a self-destruct even surpassing Van de Velde levels, everyone knew an hour before that Lowry was coming for his coronation.

So did the blue ring of steel that appeared around the 18th as the final pair negotiated the closing stretch.

The massed ranks of marshals seemed to have the most stiff upper lipped of tasks. Maintain order.

Only if that was the aim it was a fantasy. That line creaked the moment Lowry and Fleetwood fanned past the fans off the 18th tee, and it cracked entirely as the pair made their way to the green.

Shane Lowry

Then it was just a flow of bodies, running in the direction of their talisman.

In the middle of this maelstrom a man, easily in his late 40s, was roaring loudly as he sprinted towards the reformed human barrier in front of the putting surface.

On the edges, the fences protecting the fairway from the masses also proved feeble protection. A sea of faces clambered over to join the party.

Those marshals still planted in the fairway, spectators now against the rising tide, moved to help the strugglers through.

It all felt gloriously natural. It was the same way those lines so spontaneously greeted Tiger Woods at last year’s Tour Championship, or the days when Seve would be chaperoned down the final hole to another Open triumph.

In the massive grandstand, surely the most impressive structure in sport, the emotion was no less confined.

The ‘Stand Full’ sign had been in place long before Lowry’s ascension but people still queued outside – itching and hoping – to get a glimpse of the final act. Those who made it weren’t disappointed.

So what has this tournament been? A nation re-admitted to the jamboree after far too long away has produced an Open we’ll always remember and a winner who, just like Fred Daly, will be talked about in Irish folklore for decades.

The party will go on for days.

And like those still singing at the 18th as I type, we’ll not want it to end.

Keep up to speed with everything you need from Portrush on our dedicated Open website, or join the conversation on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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