Ryder Cup veterans back Shane Lowry to feel right at home in the heat of battle

Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia believe Irishman’s personality and golf game the perfect mix

Shane Lowry will become the 20th player from Ireland to play in the Ryder Cup when he makes his debut alongside Rory McIlroy and the other European players at Whistling Straits. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

Shane Lowry will become the 20th player from Ireland to play in the Ryder Cup when he makes his debut alongside Rory McIlroy and the other European players at Whistling Straits. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

 

A tip to Shane Lowry – and the other two rookies in the European team, Bernd Wiesberger and Viktor Hovland – from the wise old sage: “Embrace every piece of it . . . the player has to embrace it. He has to be comfortable with that, and he has to go out and enjoy the week at the same time. These Ryder Cup pressures can be pretty intense,” said Ian Poulter, the man who got the moniker of “The Postman” for his ability to deliver in such pressure chambers.

Lowry – who will become the 20th player from Ireland to compete in the Ryder Cup when he plays at Whistling Straits next week, September 24th-26th – has a well earned week away from tournament play before travelling out to Wisconsin next Monday, after a hectic playing schedule that saw him play 21 tournaments, including the Olympics, so far this year in his attempt to earn a Ryder Cup call-up.

That it came via a captain’s wildcard was only just reward for his efforts – which featured four top-10s, including a fourth place finish in the US PGA Championship – and, certainly, the other two more seasoned captain’s picks are only too aware of the attributes that Lowry will bring into the team room and into his play on the golf course.

“I get on very well with Shane. He’s been on tour for many years now and he’s had a couple chances of making the Ryder Cup team before and he’s done it this year,” said Sergio Garcia. “He deserves it. He’s been in the team pretty much since the beginning and unfortunately got kicked out the last week. I know how hard that must be. But he’s going to bring a lot to the team. He’s been playing great. He’s a fun guy to be around. I think he’s going to match up nicely with some of the guys we have.”

Lowry’s popularity among his peers was also emphasised by Poulter. “He’s an Open Championship winner, a WGC winner, he’s somebody who gets on amazing with everybody on the team,” said the Englishman.

Interestingly, of those who got wildcards from Pádraig Harrington and those in contention, it was Lowry who actually gained the most world ranking points through 2021 so far: Lowry amassed 110, Garcia 96, while Poulter’s 84 was marginally less than Justin Rose’s 86 with the latter overlooked for a pick.

While there are six rookies on the USA team, there is half that number – three – on the European team. It is a “balance” as Harrington put it, that he believes they’ve got right.

Ian Poulter has backed Shane Lowry to be a success on his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Ian Poulter has backed Shane Lowry to be a success on his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

“Balance is important. I’m really not going to second-guess the US strategy, I’m just going to focus on the European strategy. Definitely rookies are a good thing in a team. It gives purpose to the experienced players. I know on my team, Sergio just loves the fact that he’ll be mentoring rookies, at least one of the rookies, and he loves that job. And there’s others on the team that are leaders that will enjoy that experience.

“So it’s very important to have your rookies. It’s very important, the enthusiasm, the passion that they bring. You wouldn’t want to be there without them,” said Harrington.

Just one member of Harrington’s team is competing in this week’s opener to the 2021/22 PGA Tour season, the Fortinet Championship at Silverado resort in Napa, California. Jon Rahm, the world number one, has committed to playing before moving on to Kohler to meet up with the rest of the European team.

None of the US team are competing in Napa, having also taken advantage of a free week on the PGA Tour calendar to have a reconnaissance trip to Whistling Straits last weekend so that more time can be freed up in Ryder Cup week itself.

With Europe’s Ryder Cup qualifying complete, it means that there will be no such sub-plots at this week’s Dutch Open where Graeme McDowell, one of Harrington’s vice-captains, is included in the field. McDowell has recovered from a successful surgery to his arm and is among a sextet of Irish players in the field, along with James Sugrue (playing on a sponsor’s invitation), Cormac Sharvin, Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Niall Kearney.

On the Challenge Tour, John Murphy – who has moved to 82nd on the order of merit since turning professional in June – is one of a quartet of Irish players competing in the Hopps Open de Provence in France. Murphy is joined by Michael Hoey, Jonathan Yates and Robin Dawson in the field, with just five regular events left before the Rolex Grand Final where full tour cards are won by the leading 20 players.

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