‘I wish golf was a team game’: Shane Lowry aiming to become Ryder Cup stalwart

Offalyman reflects on experience of a lifetime and looks ahead to Rome in 2023

Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton celebrate their fourball win at the Ryder Cup on Sunday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton celebrate their fourball win at the Ryder Cup on Sunday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

 

In his head, Shane Lowry has already put the dates for the 44th Ryder Cup, at Marco Simone outside Rome in two years’ time, on the priority list. Of all the emotions shown in defeat by the European players at Whistling Straits, the images of Lowry - chest out, fist pumping, angry scowls, wide smiles and tears - encapsulated how the match worked into his DNA, part of the fabric of his being.

“Have you ever seen him grow into an angry bear?” wondered Ian Poulter of Lowry, “it was fantastic to see.”

Lowry arrived to Whistling Straits as a rookie and left as one of those with leadership qualities and intent on playing an even bigger part when the match returns to Europe on September 30th-October 2nd 2023. “There’s no doubt I’ll have a few more of these left in me. I never want to miss one of these again. I feel I’ve a lot more to give to this tournament,” he insisted.

In recounting how much the Ryder Cup meant, Lowry took us back to that wonderfully combative fourballs match with Tyrrell Hatton against Harris English and Tony Finau and a conversation he had with his caddie Bo Martin on the 18th green.

“It sounds very cocky of me saying I knew I was going to hole it. Bo said to me, ‘it’s meant to be’ before I hit the putt. And I said, ‘I feel like I’m made for this’. I can’t describe the feelings I’ve had. I am who I am. I wish golf was a team game. I’d love to be part of a team every week. (Golf) is very individually-based. That’s the way it is. God, I’d love to have this experience every week.”

Lowry’s record - one win, two losses - didn’t truly tell the full story of his contribution to the cause. For someone embracing the Ryder Cup for the first time, he got it. He got how it can stir the emotions like no other tournament, got how it could bring grown men to tears.

“I think I can bring a lot,” said Lowry of being a leader in the team room in the future. “You look at Viktor. Fitzy. I was so disappointed for Fitzy (Matt Fitzpatrick), what a lonely place it was walking down the 18th. I feel I can maybe be there for them, put an arm around the shoulder. Look at Matt, Viktor. Two of the best players in the world. You see what it means to them. I cried. I didn’t cry when I won the Open. I’d another daughter a few weeks ago. I didn’t cry. You wouldn’t believe the emotion this tournament brings out in people. It’s one of those things you can’t explain.”

Straight talk

Leadership qualities? Motivator. On Sunday morning, Lowry was upfront and frank with Rory McIlory. What did he say? It was straight talk. “’You’re Rory McIlroy. You’re already one of the best players of all time and you’re 32. Go and show it’. And he did!

“Look, Jon Rahm. Jon Rahm is going to win 10 majors. He’s one of the best golfers you’ve ever seen. Viktor Hovland. We’ve so much talent there. No doubts, there’s going to be a good few of us on the team next time, and a few others. Everyone there will be good enough to win the Ryder Cup.”

Lowry of Ireland and McIlroy embrace after the defeat on Sunday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Lowry of Ireland and McIlroy embrace after the defeat on Sunday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

He added: “I came with an open mind and it was the best time of my life. I’ve loved every single minute of it. I loved being part of this team playing with such legends of European golf, being part of Paddy’s team. I feel very disappointed for Pádraig. He doesn’t deserve this (record defeat). He’s one of the greatest players ever from Europe. One of Ireland’s greatest ever sportsmen.”

Given how he put body and soul into the foruballs on Saturday and brought some energy to the team, could he have played more? “Look, I’d obviously wanted to play more. Everyone there wants to play more. We were told what the story was and I fully trust everything that Paddy did. I’ve nothing to say about that. We were just outplayed. Statistically, they were the greatest American team that ever played in the Ryder Cup. It was so hard as Europeans trying to play in front of those fans against those players, playing the way they were. We tried as best we could and it just wasn’t good enough at the end of the day. We move on.”

Harrington, for his part, was hugely impressed with Lowry’s presence. As he put it, “Shane is a big time player, to see him and how comfortable he is in the Ryder Cup, he looks to me far more comfortable than I ever was on these pressure situations and I went on to win three Majors, six Ryder Cups. I look at him and go, ‘wow’, this is a guy who has done well but he has a bright future in the sense of the bigger the occasion the better he is.”

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