Northern Ireland

Open champion Shane Lowry's signed gift for injured spectator

A golf glove signed by Shane Lowry

A golf fan hit on the head by a shot by Open champion Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush said he was delighted the Irishman went on to victory.

Belfast businessman Owen Sweeney, 37, was given a signed glove by Lowry, after the golfer's wayward tee-shot hit the back of his neck.

Lowry signed his name on the glove and wrote 'sorry'.

It was a rare wayward shot during the County Offaly man's record-breaking round of 63 on Saturday.

Mr Sweeney, who was standing on the left of the fairway on the 14th hole, said: "It felt like a brick hitting me on the back of the head.

Image caption Owen Sweeney said the ball was like a "brick hitting me on the back of the head"

"It was pretty sore but it was ok, it turned out it was just a ball."

A Sky Sports commentator, who watched it happen, was amazed the golf fan did not fall to the ground.

Andrew Coltart told viewers: "I would have been on my knees... it just bounced off him."

Mr Sweeney was unperturbed.

He said: "At the time I was thinking, 'It's an awful lot of fuss', and I was hoping I hadn't got in the way to stop him going to victory."

Image copyright EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Far from hindering Lowry, the ricochet helped him. The ball ended up closer to the fairway in the light rough rather than in the deep grass it was heading towards.

'Worth a lot of money'

Lowry parred the hole and went on to birdie the next three.

So what next for the famous signed glove of the 2019 Open champion?

"I don't know what to do," said Mr Sweeney.

"Some people have said to get it framed, some people say it would be worth a lot of money.

"Mind you, it would be nice to have a good memory of such an important occasion for golf, but also for Northern Ireland."