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Fleetwood misses early opportunity for first major: 'I hope my time will come'

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – The final result looks like a runaway, and for the final few holes of the 148th Open Championship it was.

Shane Lowry won at Royal Portrush, six shots clear of runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

But Sunday could have been a much tighter contest had things been different on the first hole. Playing in the final pairing together, Lowry began the day with a four-stroke advantage. After a few shaky shots to start his round, Lowry had a bogey putt, while Fleetwood had a birdie putt of equal length.

“The first hole, if you look at it, I have 6 or 7 feet for birdie, [he had] 6 or 7 feet for bogey,” Fleetwood said. “I hole, he misses, and we've got a one-shot gap, and that's only after one hole.”

But Lowry made and Fleetwood missed. The latter picked up only one shot and never got any closer than three strokes.

Full-field scores from the 148th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 148th Open Championship

"You're standing on the first green, Tommy has a great chance of birdie and I'm putting for bogey from 8 feet," Lowry said. "There's a potential three-shot swing. He misses, I make, and there's only one shot. That settled me an awful lot."

As the two battled each other and horrible weather conditions – “just shocking, shocking weather,” Fleetwood described – the Englishman was only four back with five to play.

Any chance of a major rally, however, crashed and burned at the par-4 14th. Lowry made bogey and Fleetwood still lost a shot as he made double.

“[No.] 14 was just a bit of a killer blow, really,” Fleetwood said.

That dropped him to 9 under par, where he finished the championship after a closing, 3-over 74.

This is the 28-year-old’s second career solo-second in a major (2018 U.S. Open) and his best result, by far, this season. He now has nearly 9 full months before his next opportunity at Augusta National.

“It's a long time until the next major,” he said.

“But I'll reflect. I think I played a lot of very, very good golf this week. I think for me personally it was nice to play more like I feel like how I should play again. And, of course, in a major, it's my second runner-up in a major, which is great and I'm trending in the right way. I just hope my time will come eventually.”