Graeme McDowell looking forward to partnering Shane Lowry in quest for third World Cup win
Emphasis will be on individual competition which now offers world ranking points
Graeme McDowell to partner Shane Lowry in World Cup in this week’s World Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Graeme McDowell will be the old man at the wheel, Shane Lowry the new hand on deck. The pair comprise a new-look pairing for Ireland in this week’s World Cup at Royal Melbourne, although the format – with an eye on the Olympics in 2016 – has been changed for this latest edition of the championship
so that there is a greater emphasis on the individual competition with the team very much secondary.
Still, it is the team nature that appeals greatly to McDowell. “In my own career, the team events that I’ve been involved in have probably been the highlights of my career so far: the three Ryder Cups I’ve played, (the) Royal Trophy, Seve Trophies, the three World Cups I’ve played to this point. I’ve always enjoyed the team element of golf,” admitted McDowell, whose individual highlight of course came in capturing the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach.
‘Very individual sport’
McDowell, who finished fourth in the Race to Dubai, admitted: “Golf is a very individual sport. We play week-in, week-out, 72-hole strokeplay events for ourselves. Any time you get to partner with a fellow player, it’s always a lot more fun and the World Cup sits pretty high up in events that I love and enjoy. I’ve played every year that I’ve been eligible to play in the World Cup and partnered with Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy . . . Shane is a world class player and I’m looking forward to teeing it up.”
Although there is a team element, it is akin to a side bet. The main component in the €5 million tournament will be on the individual competition which now offers world ranking points, of particular relevance to Lowry in his quest to break into the world’s top-50.
The McDowell-Lowry partnership will be seeking to become the third Irish team to win the World Cup, last achieved by McGinley and Pádraig Harrington at Kiawah Island in 1997. Christy O’Connor and Harry Bradshaw won in Mexico in 1958.
“Obviously there’s a format change this year as it’s more of an individual event, but there’s still national pride at stake and after losing by one a few years ago at Mission Hills, I’d love to go one better. Even though it’s not a team competition, it would still be amazing to add a World Cup win to my resumé. I think we’ll certainly be one of the favourites,” said McDowell, whose decision to play in the World Cup will likely tie him to representing Ireland rather than Britain when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016. “I believe that I will be tied to the Irish team (for the Olympics), which is certainly not a problem in my eyes,” said McDowell.
Jason Day to play
Australia, with world number two Adam Scott coming in on the back of successive wins, are favourites but Jason Day, playing for the first time in five weeks, will be competing following the news that eight family members were killed in the recent typhoon in the Philippines. Day’s mother emigrated to Australia 30 years ago.
In a statement issued through the PGA Tour, Day – who has decided to play – said: “My family and I are thankful for all who have reached out with their prayers and concern. We feel devastated for all who have been affected by this horrific tragedy. Please pray for all who have suffered loss. Thank you.”
Matt Kuchar, who won the World Cup when partnering Gary Woodland in China two years ago, tuned up for his defence with a runner-up finish behind Scott in the Australian PGA. Kuchar will be joined by Kevin Streelman.
Rory McIlroy, who turned down the chance to play in the World Cup, has a week off before heading to Australia to play in next week’s Australian Open. After his top-10 finish in Dubai, McIlroy observed, “It’s a step in the right direction. You know, still got a couple tournaments left this year to try and get that win, but I feel like I’m edging closer and closer.”
McIlroy is also scheduled to play in the Tiger Woods promoted World Challenge in California next month.