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The Sports Report: Shane Lowry wins the British Open

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry celebrates.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to the news.

Golf

Sam Farmer was in Portrush, Northern Ireland to cover the British Open. Here’s an excerpt from his report on the final round:

“The ending was downright cinematic.

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“Shane Lowry was British Open champion, a guy who had missed the previous four cuts of the storied tournament and was so distraught about his golf a year ago that he sat in his car with tears running down his face.

An Irishman won his first major championship in Northern Ireland, a place that hadn’t played host to the Open in 68 years — and he did so Sunday in signature nasty weather, with flag-snapping winds and sideways rain. When he made the famous walk up the 18th fairway, with a sea of spectators trailing in his wake and held back by a human chain of blue-coated marshals, the electricity could have powered a city.

And when he walked up to the final green at Royal Portrush Golf Club, thousands of soaked spectators hopped to their feet and cheered. They sang “Ole, Ole, Ole” and some raised full-sized flags of Ireland. They stood, and Lowry delivered by tapping in a par putt to clinch the victory by six strokes over Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

““I spotted my family when I walked around the corner [on 18] to have a look where the flag was, and I spotted them all at the back of the green,” Lowry said. “To be honest, I welled up a little bit, and Bo [Martin, his caddie] told me to catch ahold of myself, I still have to hit a shot. Thankfully, I hit a decent shot in there and two-putted.

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“I walked down there and I tried to soak it in as much as I could. It was hard to soak it in because it’s very surreal. Especially with, I’m sure there was a lot of the crowd that wanted me to win today.”

“That was unmistakable. At every grandstand, people popped to their feet to give him an ovation. They stood, he delivered.

“Martin said it felt surreal.

“We were just laughing, like, how mental is this?” the caddie said, beaming. “These people are crazy. Can you imagine standing in this rain watching us playing golf? There’s no chance I’d be out here; I’d be inside. So fair play to them.”

“The weather wreaked havoc, with wind gusts pushing shots wildly off target and flipping umbrellas inside out — that even happened to Lowry — while downpours had people scrambling for shelter.

“I think when we got on eight, nine, 10, just shocking, shocking weather,” said Fleetwood, paired with Lowry for the final round. “It was really, really difficult. I made a par on nine that felt like a birdie.

“It was brutal. That is part of the Open generally, that’s what it’s supposed to be like.”

Boxing

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Bill Dwyre, on the greatness of Manny Pacquiao and whether he should retire:

“As storybook endings go, this one belonged on Broadway. Call the Hallmark Channel. Don’t be ashamed if you tear up.

“When Manny Pacquiao, the boxing senator from the Philippines, emerged from the ring Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the fighting fireplug had conquered two formidable opponents — unbeaten welterweight champion Keith Thurman and seldom-beaten all-division champion Father Time.

“Pacquiao is 40. Thurman is 30. This was Pacquiao’s 71st professional fight, Thurman’s 30th. Pacquiao, the only person to become an eight-division boxing champion, has fought almost as many fights in Las Vegas (21) as Thurman has fought anywhere.

“Boxing gives us so many disappointments — mismatches, bad judging decisions, lackluster performances. But when it gives us something spectacular, as it did Saturday night, all is forgiven, at least for a while. Former champion Shane Mosley made his way through the crush of family, friends and wannabes clogging Pacquiao’s dressing room after the bout to congratulate the fighter who beat him in May 2011, in a unanimous decision in this same MGM Grand Garden ring.

“Manny was just phenomenal tonight,” Mosley said. “This was great for boxing.”

“Only one thing could detract from all this: If Pacquiao decides this isn’t the end.

“In our sports fantasies, we want Tiger Woods to retire after an eagle for the win at the 18th hole of the Masters; Roger Federer to serve his final ace on match point in the Wimbledon final; Albert Pujols to hit the winning grand slam homer in the seventh game of the World Series. Pete Sampras got it right. He won the 2002 U.S. Open, his 14th tennis Grand Slam title, and never played another pro match.

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“For Pacquiao, Saturday night’s stirring victory over Thurman was his hole-in-one, ace on match point and grand slam homer all in one.

“Thurman, his highly able opponent, called the night one of “blessings and lessons.” Presumably, he meant Pacquiao had been the teacher. The match itself — high-quality boxing skills, fan frenzy (a sold-out 14,356 arena), and the class with which both fighters conducted themselves afterward — was the blessing.

“Pacquiao retired in 2016 after his third fight with Tim Bradley, but he was back seven months later. That time, Pacquiao said his family wanted it. This time, in the immediate aftermath Saturday night, everybody in Pacquiao’s camp seemed to want it. In the scrum of his locker room, which became such an orgy of selfies and sycophants that officials had trouble marshaling Pacquiao to a place where he could provide a urine sample, the atmosphere seemed to be celebrating an ending. Of those retirement advocates, only Freddie Roach, boxing’s most open person, would talk on the record about it. He, like everybody else, had seen Pacquiao enter the ring moving and boxing like a 25-year-old and leave it, while victorious, looking like an exhausted 50-year-old.

“Me and Manny, we’re going to have a long talk,” said Roach, who has now been with Pacquiao for 18 years. “I want to let everything settle down. But then we will talk. One on one. Being honest, completely honest, with each other.”

“Roach said that, even as Pacquiao was turning in perhaps the best, certainly the gutsiest, performance of his long career, he saw some hints that the time to step away is now. Pacquiao knocked Thurman down in the first round and Roach said, “Earlier in his career, he would have finished him right there.” In the 10th round, Pacquiao hit Thurman with a body shot that doubled him over in pain. “He normally would have finished a guy there,” Roach said.”

Tennis

Now before you say “Tennis, I’ll skip this section,” you’ll want to read this column from Helene Elliott:

“The offer was too good to refuse: Visit the dentist and get a free teeth-whitening procedure. And since Nicole Gibbs realized she hadn’t gone to her dentist for a couple of years — and because she wanted to look good at a bachelorette party for fellow tennis player Caroline Wozniacki — she gladly accepted.

“When the dentist noticed the tumor on the roof of her mouth and asked if she’d ever had it checked out, Gibbs brushed it off. She had previously been told it was a bony growth. The dentist thought otherwise and insisted on having it biopsied, but the surgeon she consulted wasn’t alarmed. “He said, ‘Go and have fun this weekend and not worry about it,’” said Gibbs, who lives in Venice. “I came back and found out it was cancer and not too many details beyond that at first, which is really stressful.”

“For three days after the diagnosis, Gibbs, a graduate of the Crossroads School and a two-time NCAA singles champion at Stanford, was plunged into a worst-case world. “It was a total nightmare,” she said. “The first doctor we saw kind of told us it was a treatable form of cancer but that was it. And he said, ‘By the way, if they radiate you, come here first and we’ll try to prevent all your teeth from falling out.’ So we were definitely on this roller coaster of, wow, I might lose all my teeth. Should I even be concerned about that if I might die?

“I just had no bearing, but honestly, I’m just so thankful for the experience because I think you can’t have a true appreciation for everything in your life until you have some wake-up call type of moment, and this was it for me.”

“A blown suture after her surgery in May complicated her recovery and kept her on a feeding tube for weeks instead of days, but Gibbs is back on the tennis court with a renewed appreciation for the sport. In her first competition since the surgery she surprised herself by reaching the final of a tournament in Hawaii and then jumped into a busy World Team Tennis schedule with the Orange County Breakers. She didn’t play in their win over the San Diego Aviators on Saturday but she’s scheduled to return Monday, when the Breakers play host to Springfield at the Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach.

“Gibbs, 26, has played World Team Tennis before but welcomes this opportunity to again become match-tough. The WTT format is unique: The first player or doubles duo to reach five wins the set, and each team plays one match in men’s singles and doubles, one each in women’s singles and doubles, and one in mixed doubles. It’s entertaining and the quality often is high. “There’s a lot of pressure,” said Gibbs, who defeated world No. 8 and longtime friend Sloane Stephens in singles at New York last week and teamed with Andreja Klepac to defeat Stephens and Kirsten Flipkens in doubles. “It’s a very shortened format so you have to come out of the gates well and you have to compete well.”

“Gibbs’ prognosis is good and she said she feels good, although she still has a small hole in her mouth and must remember things can get messy if she drinks too much water too fast. “I was not a fun dinner date for a while,” she said, smiling. In addition to her WTT commitments she signed up for qualifying for a premier-level event in Toronto next month and to play in Vancouver, and will go through qualifying for the U.S. Open if she can’t get a wild-card entry into the main draw. She’s also planning a November beach wedding in Mexico with fiance Jack Brody, the head of product for Snapchat. When they began dating he knew little about tennis. “Every time someone would hit a winner he would call it a kill, like in volleyball,” she said. “Now, he sometimes gives me feedback after my matches.”

Sports poll

Six new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame were inducted over the weekend. Which of the following Dodgers do you think deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame? You can vote for as many as you like: Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Maury Wills, Fernando Valenzuela. Vote in our poll at https://poll.fm/10368688 or email me your choices at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Results will be revealed next week.

Results from last week’s poll: Will the Dodgers win the World Series this year?

After 8,940 votes:

Yes, 56.2%

No, 43.8%

Your favorite sports moment

What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and I’ll start running them in future newsletters. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.

Odds and ends

Walker Buehler shuts down Marlins to complete sweep for Dodgers…. Did this student deserve admission to UCLA’s renowned gymnastics team?…. Dillon Peters flashes his promise in Angels’ victory over Mariners…. Mariano Rivera, other Baseball Hall of Fame inductees enter amid fanfare…. British Open: J.B. Holmes irks Brooks Koepka with his pre-shot routine…. Column: Remembering sports radio’s freewheeling Jim Healy, who never let listeners get bored…. Tour de France: Simon Yates wins Stage 15; Julian Alaphilippe clings to lead

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Today’s local major sports schedule

No major events scheduled.

Born on this date

1941: Jockey Ron Turcotte

1944: Baseball player Sparky Lyle

1949: Distance runner Lasse Viren

1956: Boxer Michael Spinks

1957: Baseball player Dave Stieb

1962: NBA player Alvin Robertson

1966: NFL player Tim Brown

1971: Soccer player Kristine Lilly

1972: NFL player Keyshawn Johnson

1980: Race car driver Scott Dixon

1995: NFL player Ezekiel Elliott

Died on this date

1979: Boxer Tony Galento, 69

2018: NFL coach Tony Sparano, 56

And finally

Ron Turcotte rides Secretariat to an amazing victory at the Belmont Stakes. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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