Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy get back on the road to try their luck in Las Vegas

Ryder Cup duo will both take part in the big-money CJ Cup event in the desert

Shane Lowry's time at home has proven to be a rather brief period, with the Offalyman back in action on the PGA Tour at this week's CJ Cup at the Summit Club in Las Vegas where Rory McIlroy – who hasn't played since the Ryder Cup – will also be back in action for the limited field megabucks tournament.

Where the CJ Cup's traditional home was rooted in South Korea, the impact of Covid-19 has forced it to up sticks and move to the glittering lights of the Nevada desert and, with prizemoney of $9.75 million (€8.45 million) on offer, the event has attracted a strong field – albeit without world number one Jon Rahm – that features no fewer than 17 players who appeared in the recent Ryder Cup.

Eight European team members – Lowry, McIlroy, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Ian Poulter – are playing.

Rahm, very much to his credit, has resisted the lure of the big money available stateside to commit to the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama this week – a tournament on the European Tour with less than half the purse of the CJ Cup – to somewhat disprove that old throwaway remark of Ernie Els back in the day who suggested this was the time of the year for players to get the "wheelbarrow out" for greenbacks.


Lowry will be playing his first event of the PGA Tour's wraparound 2021/22 season, having returned to Europe following the Ryder Cup to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland. He has managed just one week at home with his family before setting off again, this trip to the no-cut CJ Cup – with a field of 78 players – getting him playing again before continuing his global travels onwards to take in the Zozo Championship (with an even bigger purse) in Chiba, Japan, next week.

McIlroy, who had a particularly disappointing Ryder Cup, rescued only slightly by winning his final singles match against Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele to avert a complete whitewash, returns to tournament play after a two-week break at home in Florida.

Having played an exhaustive schedule from the Irish Open to the Tour Championship, when he played eight weeks out of 10, including traversing the globe, McIlroy – currently 14th in the world rankings – took two weeks out prior to the Ryder Cup and another two weeks off after it as he plays a more selective late-season schedule.

Séamus Power, who bounced back from a missed cut in the Sanderson Farms with a tied-21st finish in the Shriners Children's Open, where Sungjae Im was an impressive winner with four strokes to spare over runner-up Matthew Wolff, is third reserve to get into the field in the CJ Cup.

Rahm may have failed to complete a hat-trick of Spanish Opens in Madrid but his commitment to his home events in Spain is clear and obvious: the top-ranked player is the headline act in Valderrama (where he is joined by fellow Ryder Cuppers Bernd Wiesberger and Matt Fitzpatrick) for the second event of a four-tournament Iberian swing, a run which has major implications for those further down the order of merit and fighting to save their cards and also for those striving to make it to the Tour Championship in Dubai.

Only one Irish player – Jonathan Caldwell – is in the field for Valderrama, while John Murphy, after a couple of impressive weeks on the main circuit, returns to the Challenge Tour for this week's Emporda in Girona.

Murphy, currently 88th in the Race to Mallorca standings on the Challenge Tour's order of merit, and Michael Hoey, who is 32nd, are the only two Irish players in action in Girona which is the penultimate event of the regular season before next week's Costa Brava Challenge decides those who progress on to the Grand Final in Mallorca.

Meanwhile, the European Tour has confirmed the addition of the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital in the UAE onto the 2022 schedule as part of a five tournament Middle East Swing.

The $2 million tournament will be the third event in the region, following on from the Rolex Series events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and preceding the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and one other tournament yet to be announced.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times