Shane Lowry says he ‘deserved place’ on Ryder Cup team after wild card criticism

Shane Lowry admits criticism of his Ryder Cup wild card “did not suit well” with him (Brian Lawless/PA)
Shane Lowry admits criticism of his Ryder Cup wild card “did not suit well” with him (Brian Lawless/PA)

Shane Lowry admits he was not best pleased to hear criticism of his Ryder Cup wild card after taking the chance to “shut a few people up” with his performance in the Irish Open.

Lowry received one of captain Luke Donald’s six picks having finished 11th on the European points list and eighth on the world points list, with only the top three on each qualifying automatically.

The former Open champion won the first qualifying event – and will defend his BMW PGA Championship title this week – but his sole top-10 finish in 2023 prior to The K Club came in February’s Honda Classic.

That led to criticism of Lowry’s selection, with former British Masters

winner Richard Bland among those believing that Adrian Meronk’s consistent form – including May’s Italian Open victory at the Ryder Cup venue – meant the Pole “deserves a pick over an out-of-form Lowry”.

“I know there was a little bit about that last week and…. I need to be careful here,” Lowry said in his pre-tournament press conference at Wentworth.

“Didn’t sit very well with me to be honest. I feel like, yes, my results have not been amazing this year, but I feel if you purely go down to statistics and go down the 12 best players in Europe, I’m one of them. And I feel like I deserve my place on the team.

“I didn’t feel like I had to go out and prove anything to anyone last week. The Irish Open is a huge tournament for me and a tournament I wanted to play well in.

“If it shut a few people up, so be it, but I wasn’t trying to do that last week. I wasn’t trying to finish third last week, I was trying to win the tournament. So last week was disappointing for me.

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry putting on the 12th green during day three of the 2023 Horizon Irish Open at The K Club (Brian Lawless/PA)

“This week is the same. I’m trying to win the tournament here this week.  I know I deserve to be on that team and I know I’ll be good in Rome in a couple weeks and I’m very excited for it.”

All 12 of Europe’s team are competing at Wentworth after a flying visit to Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on Monday, where the thickness of the rough has proved a major topic of conversation.

Numerous balls were reportedly lost during the practice round and Lowry joked: “I only lost one so I was pretty happy with myself.

“Our group (Robert MacIntyre, Sepp Straka and Justin Rose) was actually pretty good, we didn’t lose that many, but one group had a bad day losing a few.

“It’s pretty brutal in spots but just off the fairways is no different to what you might see at the US Open or something like that. If you go a decent bit off the fairways that’s going to get very interesting.”

Asked if players thought the rough might need to be cut back, Lowry added: “No. If you hit a good drive down the fairway and hit a good second shot you’re on the green, that’s what golf’s about. That’s how I see it.

“If you look at the way the course is set up, Scottie Scheffler is number one tee-to-green in the world. So it should suit him. They have got some of the best players in the world.

“But we also have some of the best players in the world and I honestly think that it all comes down to who gets off to a fast start and who holes the most putts. That’s what Ryder Cups are about.”

Europe will certainly hope home advantage plays its part as seven of the last eight Ryder Cups have been won by the home side, with 2012’s ‘Miracle at Medinah’ the lone exception.

Ryder Cup
Team USA celebrate with the Ryder Cup trophy after victory at Whistling Straits (Anthony Behar/PA)

The United States stormed to a record 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits two years ago, but Lowry is confident a new generation of European players will prove a different proposition in Rome.

“If you look at their team, Scottie Scheffler was the worst player and he was 21st in the world, and he was world number one about five months later. That’s kind of what we are up against,” Lowry said.

“I feel like this is almost like maybe the next generation for European golf and I think that’s very exciting to see guys like Nicolai (Hojgaard) and Ludvig (Aberg) on the team and Viktor (Hovland).

“You look at Vincent Norrman winning last week, he’s probably going to be on future European Ryder Cup teams. I think European golf is better than what people have been talking about over the last couple of years.”