Shane Lowry out to grab Ryder Cup spot ‘by the scruff of the neck’ at Wentworth

Irish star will enjoy a week off before looking to cement automatic spot in Pádraig Harrington’s team

No East Lake for Shane Lowry, or any late attempt at the pot of gold available for those players involved in the PGA Tour's finale later this week, where the Tour Championship will decide the ultimate winner of the 2021 FedEx Cup.

If truth be told, you get the impression that Lowry’s week at home with his family in Dublin means more than any amount of greenbacks on offer across the Atlantic. After a hugely hectic stint on tour, which has seen him criss-crossing timelines from one side of the globe to the other and back again, a week off ahead of the final push for a Ryder Cup at next week’s BMW Championship in Wentworth is probably what he really deserves.

That European Tour showcase in Wentworth will bring Europe's Ryder Cup qualifying to an end and, as things stand, Lowry currently occupies the final spot on the team available through the world points list. It means going there with some work to do to get an automatic spot, without having to rely on any wild card pick from captain Pádraig Harrington.

Lowry hasn't missed a cut on tour since the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill back in March and, while a win has evaded him, that consistency has enabled him to work his way into Ryder Cup likelihood.


“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been playing over the last while and I think I’ve put my hand up,” said Lowry. “I’m in the team now but Wentworth is going to be a big week and I’m looking forward to going there and competing. It’s a place I love going and hopefully I can have a good week and cement my place in the team.

“I’d rather if I wasn’t under pressure. I’d rather if I was fully cemented in the team and going to Wentworth just to play my game. It is what it is. It’s a great position to be in. Three years ago when it was the France Ryder Cup and I wasn’t anywhere near the team, I would have given a lot to be in the position I am now. I’m in the position where I need to grab it by the scruff of the neck and go ahead and make the team.”

There are some possible complications that could materialise yet to make things more difficult to qualify by right. For instance, a top-15 finish by Bernd Wiesberger in this week's Italian Open would see the Austrian move ahead of Rory McIlroy on the European points list, which in turn would see McIlroy bump Lowry off the world points list.

If that were to happen, it would still leave matters in Lowry’s own hands with the big money and ramped-up points available at the BMW PGA in Wentworth. There is always the cushion of a probable captain’s pick to fall back on, but Lowry is one of those players who’d rather have control of his own destiny.

For McIlroy – who has decided not to travel back for Wentworth following the Tour Championship – there remains the potential for a third FedEx Cup title, even if he has some work to do once the tournament gets under way. A solo fourth-place finish in the BMW in Baltimore ensured McIlroy moved up the FedEx Cup standings from 28th to 16th among those 30 players who qualified for the final tournament in Atlanta.

The Tour Championship has a staggered starting field, with Patrick Cantlay – as number one in the standings – starting out with a score of 10 under par before a ball is hit, two strokes clear of second placed Tony Finau and three ahead of Bryson DeChambeau.

McIlroy will start out on two under (eight shots behind Cantlay) but with improved optimism after what he called “a good week” at the BMW: “I hit the ball well, putted better with the old putter back in the bag . . . all I wanted to do was get to East Lake and it’s nice that I’ve moved up a few spots as well.”

Starting positions for Tour Championship
Patrick Cantlay
-8 Tony Finau
-7 Bryson DeChambeau
-6 Jon Rahm
-5 Cameron Smith
-4 Justin Thomas, Harris English, Abraham Ancer, Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns
-3 Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im, Viktor Hovland, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson
-2 Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka
-1 Correy Connors, Hideki Matsuyama, Stewart Cink, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler
Lev Daniel Berger, Eric van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed