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defending champion WATCH: Shane Lowry on handing back the Claret Jug and his hopes for another Open triumph

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Shane Lowry during a practice round at the 149th British Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich. Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Naden

Shane Lowry during a practice round at the 149th British Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich. Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Naden

Shane Lowry during a practice round at the 149th British Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich. Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Naden

Shane Lowry has been reflecting on his memorable 2019 Open Championship win, as he prepares to finally get a chance to defend the Claret Jug.

Lowry's win at Portrush was one of the great moments in Irish sport and while the Offaly hero admitted he was sad to hand the trophy back on Monday, he reflects on his two year acquaintance with the most iconic trophy in golf with pride.

"People probably think I sit at home every night and drink out of the Claret Jug," he told Paddy Power.

"It's not quite like that but you can take winning for granted if you're not careful. In golf if you win 2% of the time you've had a good career, so you have to enjoy the highs.

"I felt like I arrived in Portrush under the radar in 2019. It was all about Rory McIlroy, but I was playing so well I shot four-under on the first day and still didn't feel like it was my best. I finished badly in the second round but still had the lead. I went back to the hotel and watched Love Island!"

Lowry's defining moment of the 2019 Open Championship came on Saturday when he shot a course record 63 to move four shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood by the end of the third round.

"That was the best round of my life. I missed a few chances early on but then on the back nine I was making everything. It was a huge day in my career," he continued. "After that, I knew if I didn't win it from there it would be a disaster. If I hadn't won that I still wouldn't be over it now.

"I didn't sleep then, I didn't have breakfast, I barely had lunch. I was sick. The first tee on the final round at Portrush was the most intimidating place I've ever been. When you look around at a golf tournament everyone is having a great time apart from the players and caddies. It's incredibly stressful.

"All the way round all I could think about was holding the trophy. I couldn't wait to be finished. I walked down the fairway on the 18th and looked up at the leaderboard and I couldn't believe it was my name."

But as the world's best players descend on England for the week in the hopes of lifting the Claret Jug, Lowry knows if the weather turns it won't suit everyone.

"I wouldn't be more comfortable on a links course but I just know how to play them," he added.

"If it's raining during the first round on Thursday you may as well forget about 100 guys that are there. They won't know how to deal with it, they won't want to be there, some of them won't have played in those conditions for a while. They'll be in their private jet and going home.

"I've been to Royal St George's once and I shot a round of 81. I remember watching the tournament there in 2011 and it looks extremely difficult," Lowry says.

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Lowry is 28/1 to retain his title - something that hasn't been done since Padraig Harrington won back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.

US Open winner Jon Rahm is the 13/2 favourite followed by four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (14/1) and 2017 Open Champion Jordan Spieth (16/1).

Rory McIlory is an 18/1 chance having lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 while World Number 1 Dustin Johnson is 20/1.

Full odds at Paddy Power HERE

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