On The Open's first visit to Northern Ireland since 1951, Shane Lowry became the latest in a string of Irish golfers who have enjoyed recent success in a major championship.

Lowry's stunning six-shot triumph at Royal Portrush on Sunday represented the 10th major victory by a player from either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland in the last 12 years.

The new Open champion, who hails from County Westmeath in the Republic, follows in the footsteps of Padraig Harrington, the winner of The Open in 2007 and 2008 and also the US PGA Championship victor in the second of those seasons.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, has had three major champions in the past decade, with Rory McIlroy winning four titles and triumphs also coming the way of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

Since the start of 2007, the year Harrington first tasted Open glory, only the United States - with half of the 52 titles since then - can boast more major wins than either Northern Ireland or the Republic, and Lowry denied America a clean sweep in 2019.

We look at how many major winners have come from each country in that period.

 

Major wins by country since 2007:

26 - UNITED STATES - Brooks Koepka (4), Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth (both 3), Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson (all 2), Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland.

6 - NORTHERN IRELAND - Rory McIlroy (4), Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke.

4 - REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Padraig Harrington (3), Shane Lowry; SOUTH AFRICA - Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els.

2 - ARGENTINA - Angel Cabrera (2); GERMANY - Martin Kaymer (2); ENGLAND - Justin Rose, Danny Willett, AUSTRALIA - Adam Scott, Jason Day.

1 - SOUTH KOREA - Y.E. Yang; SWEDEN - Henrik Stenson; SPAIN - Sergio Garcia; ITALY - Francesco Molinari.

Tim Henman believes Serena Williams will bounce back from her Wimbledon final defeat to Simona Halep and be in the running for a 24th grand slam title at the US Open.

Williams could offer little resistance to an inspired Halep in the Wimbledon showdown, succumbing to a 6-2 6-2 defeat to the Romanian.

The world number nine was also a beaten finalist at Wimbledon in 2018, before going on to finish as runner up in last year's US Open.

And Henman has no doubt Williams will recover from her defeat to Halep and make it to the latter stages in New York this time around, as she hunts a title which would equal Margaret Court's record haul of 24.

"She's been in three slam finals in the last year so she's still playing at a very high level," Henman told Omnisport.

"It's just a question mark of whether she can equal it and overtake Margaret Court. [The] US Open is not far away and I'm sure she'll be in the mix in New York."

"I was [surprised]," former British number one Henman said when asked about Halep's dominant display against Williams on Centre Court.

"I think when you look at their head to head, they played 10 times and it was 9-1 for Serena coming into that match.

"[Halep] was a huge underdog but the reality of chasing Margaret Court has affected Serena. She didn't play her best tennis and Halep played amazingly well to dominate and win 6-2 6-2."

Halep's win represented her second grand slam triumph, after the 2018 French Open, and Henman has backed the former world number one to step up her level once more now she has another major title to her name.

"She won a slam, she won the French Open before, been number one in the world, she's a great player," Henman said.

"To get that second slam under her belt, I think there's a possibility she could kick on from that."

 

- Tim Henman was talking on behalf of The Open patron HSBC. HSBC are once again offering free golf to children and their friends via the HSBC Hour which are taking place at over 500 clubs in the UK and Ireland. For more information, please visit: https://www.theopen.com/patrons/hsbc

Andy Murray does not expect to feature in the US Open singles competition as he continues his comeback from hip surgery.

Former world number one Murray and mixed-doubles partner Serena Williams eased into the third round at Wimbledon on Tuesday with a 7-5 6-3 win over 14th seeds Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo.

Murray and Pierre-Hugues Herbert crashed out of the men's doubles in the second round, but the Briton could lift a second trophy since returning from surgery following his triumph alongside Feliciano Lopez at the Queen's Club Championships in June.

However, the 32-year-old – who had initially suggested he would look to return to singles for the North American hard-court leg of the ATP Tour, which concludes with the grand slam at Flushing Meadows in August – has indicated he is unlikely to take the next step in his comeback so soon.

"I think it's pretty unlikely just in terms of timing," 2012 US Open champion Murray told a news conference. "I spoke to my team a bit about that yesterday. Just a lot of stuff I need to get done physically, get myself stronger.

"The amount of work I need to do on the court to get ready for singles, the amount of work I need to put in off the court to get myself strong enough to play best of five sets, it's still quite a way away unfortunately.

"I would love to play. I need to look, like, pretty long term with this. I don't want to be having to go through another big operation in a few years' time.

"I want to make sure the operation I've had lasts for as long as possible. To give it the best chance, I need to make sure that, I'm physically really strong before I get back on the singles court."

At least for now, Murray said the focus is simply on enjoying his tennis – and of-court life – once more following two injury-hit seasons.

"When I got my hip injury, I was ranked number one in the world. I went from playing at the highest level of the sport to really struggling to do day-to-day things," Murray added.

"Playing tennis was not fun anymore, because it was painful every time I played. The training wasn't great.

"Then I wasn't enjoying just going out for a walk, doing other kind of social things as well. Going out for dinner and things like that, it was just uncomfortable.

"Now that I'm pain-free again, I realise that's actually the most important thing, is to be healthy, enjoying a kind of normal life, for someone that's 32. I'm just doing the things I've always loved doing again, which I didn't have the opportunity to do much the last couple of years."

Serena Williams apologised to Naomi Osaka for her outburst in the US Open final but maintains the incident demonstrated the unequal treatment received by female and male competitors.

Williams went down 6-2 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium last September as Osaka claimed her maiden grand slam success.

But it was her veteran opponent's reaction on the way to being denied a record-equalling 24th major triumph that stole the headlines, with Williams responding furiously to umpire Carlos Ramos handing her a game penalty after the official initially penalised her for a coaching violation.

In an article for Harper's Bazaar, the 37-year-old explained she took a long time to get over the defeat and started seeing a therapist. She concluded the potential impact upon Osaka was the root of her lingering disquiet, so reached out to the Japanese.

"Finally I realised that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologise to the person who deserved it the most," Williams wrote. "I started to type, slowly at first, then faster as if the words were flowing out of me."

Her message read: "Hey, Naomi! It's Serena Williams. As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other.

"I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.

"I can't wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love, your fan, Serena."

In a response that reduced Williams to tears, Osaka stated, "People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can't differentiate between the two," and added, "No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing".

At the time, Williams complained to tournament referee Brian Earley that her punishment was disproportionate when set against male players who have behaved in the same way. Osaka's reply sharpened her focus on this.

"This incident—though excruciating for us to endure—exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day," she continued. "We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate. We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly is just not something I'm okay with.

"It's shameful that our society penalises women just for being themselves."

Reflecting upon her career struggles, Williams added: "In short, it's never been easy. But then I think of the next girl who is going to come along who looks like me, and I hope, 'Maybe, just maybe, my voice will help her'."

Osaka added this year's Australian Open to her haul, while Williams progressed to the semi-finals of Wimbledon on Tuesday with gripping 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Alison Riske.

Regional cartoonist Guy O’Neal has described the controversial caricature of tennis star Serena Williams as having gone ‘way over the top’ and ‘offensive’.

George Davis is backing the chair umpire who docked Serena Williams a game in the final of the US Open she lost to rising sensation Nayomi Osaka, while Lance Whittaker is not so sure. What say you?

Naomi Osaka claimed her maiden grand slam title in truly extraordinary circumstances at the US Open, as a furious Serena Williams became embroiled in a stunning row with umpire Carlos Ramos. 

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