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I knew Lowry would be a star, says Antrim golfer Morris who was beaten by Open hero a decade ago

Lowry soaks up the celebrations with fans in Dublin bars

The Open champion with Sgt Gillolley and Insp Cullen outside the Boar’s Head on Capel Street in Dublin yesterday
The Open champion with Sgt Gillolley and Insp Cullen outside the Boar’s Head on Capel Street in Dublin yesterday
Shane Lowry celebrates
Stills from a video of Shane Lowry singing with punters in 37 Dawson Street pub in Dublin on Sunday
Stills from a video of Shane Lowry singing with punters in 37 Dawson Street pub in Dublin on Sunday
Stills from a video of Shane Lowry singing with punters in 37 Dawson Street pub in Dublin on Sunday
Shane Lowry celebrating inside the pub
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

A Co Antrim golfer who narrowly lost the final of a top amateur championship to Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush 11 years ago says he always knew the Offaly man would become a Major winner.

Andrew Morris was beaten by one hole by Lowry in the final of the North of Ireland championship in 2008.

And on Sunday night the new Open champion told a post-victory Press conference that he couldn't stop thinking about Andrew all last week - because his northern opponent fluffed the opening shot of their final.

He told the world's media: "He shanked his tee shot out of bounds at the first.

"He's going to kill me for that."

Andrew, however, says he's forgiven his old adversary, even though he knows that Shane's mention of that horror shank will guarantee renewed ribbing for him from his friends and colleagues for a long time to come. Yet it wasn't a bad week for the Morris family.

Andrew's 12-year-old son Patrick was seen on television catching a glove thrown into the crowd from a raised walkway at the end of the second practice round by 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods, who later arranged to sign it for his young fan.

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But the excitement got even better for Patrick as Tiger's gesture brought a totally unexpected bonus from Rory McIlroy for the Lagan College schoolboy, who has a twin sister, Eloise.

Andrew - who lost another North of Ireland final to Paddy Gribben from Warrenpoint in 1999 - explained: "We got a call the next day from Rory's caddie Harry Diamond who said Patrick should change his allegiance.

"And a signed glove of Rory's was sent to him.

"We couldn't believe it."

Andrew, who now runs a golf business, was delighted to see Shane lifting the Claret Jug and pocketing a cheque for £1.5m in the process.

"He's a real gentleman - just an ordinary 'five eight' - who deserves all his success that comes his way," said Andrew, who insists it was obvious years ago that Shane had talent.

Andrew added: "He always had a great reputation for having a phenomenally sharp short game.

"And I'm not surprised that he's become a world beater."

Andrew, who represented Ulster at interprovincial level, insists he wasn't jealous as Shane clinched his first Major on Sunday evening in front of thousands of adoring fans.

"Not at all. I knew I wasn't good enough to become a professional.

"So I stuck to what I was good at - selling golf clubs, and Shane stayed doing what he's good at, playing the game at the highest level," said the owner of Andrew Morris Golf, situated at Laganview driving range in Ballyskeagh near Lisburn.

Andrew still plays competitively for Portrush, the club he joined in 2008.

"And I still love the game," he declared.

"I didn't get to meet Shane last week.

"But I've bumped into him on occasions after our 2008 final.

"He always gives me a wink and says he remembers our encounter and that shot," he added.

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