Shane Lowry: ‘The Ryder Cup put something different in me that I never thought was there’

Golfer admits wondering whether he has peaked, but thinks 2023 could be his best year yet

The Wolf of Wall Street he is not. But on a December afternoon Shane Lowry sits in a plush, glass-framed boardroom – which, for convenience, is in the offices of his agents, Horizon Sports Management in the bustling Dublin suburb of Rathmines –, dressed casually. No business suit, no logoed polo shirt; rather, a stylish jumper reflective of someone at ease in his environment, comfortable with where he is and where he’s going.

The Christmas report card, if it existed, would hold no secrets after another strong year on tour. “I’d give myself a high mark,” said Lowry of a season in which he claimed a sixth career win, in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. That continued a trend of tasting victory only at the high table of golf, with his CV including a Major, a WGC, Rolex Series and now the DP World Tour’s flagship.

Lowry, though, has team sport in his DNA. He may never experience what is dad Brendan did in winning the Sam Maguire at Croke Park but, even with enticing visits to places such as Augusta National for the Masters or Royal Liverpool for next year’s 151st Open or Los Angeles Country Club for the US Open or Oak Hill for the US PGA, it is the team element that puts the Ryder Cup in Rome at the top of hit list.

As he puts it, “I think the Ryder Cup is very important for me [in 2023]. Like, obviously, the Majors are very important to me. But the Ryder Cup is up there. I don’t only want to be a part of the team. I want to be part of a winning team. That’s the plan. That’s the goal. I wouldn’t be going playing the Hero Cup [in Abu Dhabi] in January if it wasn’t a Ryder Cup year. That’s how much it means to me. I feel that might help me, us, whoever, in September ... for me, the number one goal [next year] would probably be to win the Ryder Cup.


“Obviously, I want to win the Masters. I want to win the Open. I want to win all of them, but I think a great goal is to be a part of the Ryder Cup team, because I think if I’m part of that I’ll be playing good golf.”

Lowry’s debut appearance in the Ryder Cup came at Whistling Straits, where he was on a team heavily defeated by the Americans. But there were moments, most especially his dramatic fourballs win with Tyrrell Hatton over Tony Finau and Harris English, that showed what the whole experience meant to him.

“[The Ryder Cup] put something different in me that I never thought was there. Because there were no European crowds there and it was all American fans, I said to myself, ‘no matter what happens, no matter what I do, I’m just going to take it easy, pick the ball out of the hole and walk off the green’. I remember holing a 30-footer for a half on the fourth hole playing with Rory on the first day and I just went bananas. I have no idea what happened or how it happened. It just happened. And I did that for the rest of the week. I loved every minute of it.”

Yet, before that Ryder Cup visit to Rome at the tail-end of September, the majority of Lowry’s year will be done and dusted. The PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup will be over. So, too, the four Majors; and if the Ryder Cup is a self-confessed goal, the Majors have an aura all of their own that means scheduling and planning and eyeing the great prizes.

As he observed, “I have very high expectations of myself, obviously. I want to go to the Masters and I want to compete. I want to go to the PGA and the US Open and the British Open and I want to compete. I might get to Augusta in bad form, and I might not be playing well, but what I do is I build up to try and give myself the best opportunity to do it. And that’s all I can do. I think, as the older I’ve got, the want to win and want to do better has got even more. But I think I’ve realised that now what I need to do to get to there, I just need to, day after day, just keep giving it 100 per cent. Whether it be training, golf practice, playing a tournament round, just doing my best each day. And I think that builds up to something good at the end.”

Certainly, now 35 years of age and heading into his 14th year on tour, Lowry’s desire to achieve in his chosen profession remains unabated: “I’ve got fire in my belly. I’ve got a desire, a want, to be the best I can be and to win big tournaments Maybe I am a little bit hard on myself at times. But I don’t think I’m too hard on myself where it gets in my way. I don’t think I’m like that any more. Maybe it was like that in the past, but definitely not any more.”

Lowry is in a good place. Next year’s PGA Tour – somewhat in reaction to LIV Golf’s arrival – will have bigger purses than ever, up to $20 million. But it is the Majors that Lowry believes will benefit most from the new landscape.

“The Majors actually, they’re almost going to benefit from it. It’s going be the only time everyone plays against each other. Like the Masters will be very interesting, won’t it? But, look, it’s just like, as I always say, I just don’t think it’s good for golf.”

Lowry is just getting on with things, focusing on his own way forward.

A question: has he peaked?

It is a question he has often asked himself, it transpires. “I don’t know. I hope not. I’ve talked about this, and I’ve thought about this. Have I peaked? The Open [win in 2019] is probably going to be the best thing I will ever do in the game. But I’m comfortable with that. And I think as long as I’m comfortable with that, I’ve got other goals that want to achieve, and they’re still going to be amazing.

“Like Wentworth was one of the greatest feelings ever this year. But it wasn’t The Open. But that’s okay. You know what I mean? So that’s how I feel about it. And I don’t think I’ve peaked. Ask Pádraig Harrington. He doesn’t think he’s peaked yet either. I think golfers, we all think we’ve got a good year in us, regardless of what age you are, what you’ve done. Do I feel like 2023 can be my best year? Yeah, of course I do. I wouldn’t be going out to compete if I didn’t think [that way].”

Onwards and upwards, as the man himself is prone to say.