July 24 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy congratulated Shane Lowry and told him that his life would never be the same again after he was catapulted to national hero status in Ireland after winning the British Open on Sunday.
Four-times major champion McIlroy missed the cut by a shot at Royal Portrush, and was already back in Florida moving into a new house when Irishman Lowry completed a fairytale ending by lifting the Claret Jug in the first Open held in Northern Ireland since 1951.
“He texted me on Friday night and gave me a couple of words of encouragement,” McIlroy said on Wednesday, on the eve of the World Golf Championships-St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.
“He said ‘I’ll see you in Memphis’ and I said ‘I hope I don’t see you in Memphis because hopefully you’re still drinking out of the Claret Jug’, and that came to fruition, which is nice.”
As predicted, Lowry pulled out of this week’s event at TPC Southwind to savour his victory at home.
McIlroy instead is looking forward to buying Lowry dinner when they finally catch up in a fortnight at the Northern Trust tournament at Liberty National, just across the water from New York.
“I texted him straight after (he won). I said ‘it’s going to change your life’. It is a life-changer, and especially doing it there at Portrush. He’s going to be a national hero for the rest of his life. I’m just so happy for him.”
McIlroy also expressed satisfaction with the way the Open was played without any major hitches, and sees no reason why it will not return to Portrush within the next decade.
“I don’t think they put a foot wrong,” he said. “The scenes on Sunday, with Shane winning it was a fairytale ending.
“To see all the people running down the final fairway and the marshals having to create a wall for a barricade, it was unbelievable.
“I think it was a great showcase for our country and from what I’m hearing the Open will go back to Portrush in maybe the next eight or 10 years.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina Editing by Toby Davis