Maddie Meyer/PGA of America
Shane Lowry is realistic about his results this year. They’ve not been terrible by any means, but they have been disappointing when compared to his win at the DP World Tour’s prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth one year ago.
Since then, Lowry has registered just one top-10 worldwide.
“My form probably has not been the greatest,” Lowry said Tuesday during a press conference ahead of the DP World Tour’s Irish Open at the famed K Club. “But some of the bigger events I’ve played some of my best golf,” referencing his T-16 at the Masters, T-12 at the PGA Championship and two top-15s in PGA Tour “designated” events.
Still, the 2019 Open champion got a call from European Ryder Cup skipper Luke Donald on Sunday night that he had earned one of the six captain’s picks made official on Monday.
“I hadn’t talked to Luke for a few weeks, so it was nice to get the official call,” Lowry said. “There’s nothing bigger than the Ryder Cup, and hopefully I can go to Rome and show people what I’m made of.”
Lowry concedes he is guilty of allowing his year-long push to qualify for the European team to become a minor distraction. The qualification period began the week of his BMW win.
“I definitely said at the start of the year, my big thing was to not only make the team but win the Ryder Cup this year [as] one of my main goals, and I probably put too much pressure on myself,” said Lowry, who won one point in three matches during his 2021 Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Robert MacIntyre qualified off the European points list while FedEx Cup champ Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick came from the World points list. Donald then rounded out the team with Lowry, Ludvig Aberg, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Højgaard, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka. Controversially, Donald left out Poland’s Adrian Meronk, a tall and powerful driver whose three DP World Tour victories over the past 12 months include the Irish Open, Australian Open and Italian Open at Marco Simone, the same Rome course hosting this month’s Ryder Cup.
Many pundits and fans on social media saw Højgaard’s pick as a snubbing of Meronk. The pick was likely between those two as Aberg had earned a pick despite the rookie pro having not played in a major championship yet. The Swede, 23, registered a top-five and a victory (European Masters) in the final two qualifying events in Europe.
A strong argument could be made Meronk is far more in-form than Højgaard, who has not won in over 18 months. Lowry, however, defended Donald’s wildcard.
“Well, people have their opinion,” he said. “Adrian has had a great year, and he’s unfortunate to miss out, but somebody has to miss out. I’m not going to sit here and disagree with Luke Donald.
“I watched [European Masters] last weekend; I think Ludvig is probably going to play in the next six or seven Ryder Cups, so this is a good one to start with in Rome with a very strong team. I think he’ll fit into the team nicely. He drives the ball incredibly well, which is what you need around that golf course, and I think he’s a great fit for the team.”
Lowry, 36, expects the weight off his shoulders as conducive to good play over the next two weeks at the Irish Open and BMW PGA.
“I always have very high expectations of myself, so I expect to come here and compete and give myself a chance on Sunday,” he said, having won the Irish Open in 2009 as an amateur. “I’d dearly love to win [this] again. I’m playing two tournaments I love playing, two golf courses I like playing the next two weeks, so there’s no reason why I can’t come out in form.
“I live for the occasion and I love it. Apart from major championship golf, it doesn’t really get bigger than the next couple of weeks for me, and then obviously the Ryder Cup is probably one of the biggest tournaments in the world. I’ll have no problem getting motivated, don’t worry. Come Friday morning on that first tee, I’ll be ready to play.”
Now that the European team is rounded out, it begs the question, who are the favourites? Plenty say Europe, given top players like FedEx Cup winner Hovland are in form and the U.S. hasn’t won a Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993.
“I don’t gamble on golf, so I wouldn’t know,” Lowry said laughing as he walked out of the media centre.