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Ryder Cup Race

Shane Lowry returns to BMW PGA hoping to lock up final Europe qualifying spot for Ryder Cup

September 08, 2021

Luke Walker

VIRGINIA WATER, England — There’s a lot going on inside Shane Lowry’s head at the moment. He and wife Wendy welcomed a new addition to the clan, daughter Ivy, just the other day. Qualification for the European Ryder Cup side climaxes this week at the BMW PGA Championship and Lowry is at Wentworth as, at least for the moment, the ninth and last automatic qualifier. And -- news just in -- the Open Championship is heading back to Royal Portrush in 2025, only six years after Lowry so memorably fulfilled his life’s ambition at the Northern Irish venue.

First things first, though. While the man from Offaly has never won what the European Tour grandly labels its “flagship event,” Lowry’s record over the much revamped Burma Road course is remarkable for its consistency. In 11 previous visits to the heart of leafy Surrey’s stockbroker belt, he has piled up eight finishes inside the top-15, the best a runner-up finish behind fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy in 2014.

“I love coming back here,” he said, to the surprise of precisely no one. “Since I came here first in 2010 I've always really enjoyed it. It's not just the golf course. It's the whole area itself. I just love being here. I think it's a great part of the world. And yeah, I've had some decent success around here. I’ve shot some good scores and played some good rounds. I've not quite won, but I've not been far away a couple of times. Hopefully I can give it a bit of a run this week.”

In all likelihood, he will have to do just that. Many are the possibilities over the next four days as far as the Ryder Cup is concerned. The scenarios are almost endlessly complicated.

By way of mathematical example, Bernd Wiesberger, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, Guido Migliozzi, Thomas Detry, and Ian Poulter can all qualify automatically without actually winning this week. Richard Bland, Danny Willett, Matthias Schwab, Justin Rose, Rasmus Højgaard, Calum Hill, Alex Noren, Matt Wallace, and Henrik Stenson would all have to finish first to have any chance.

Wiesberger has by far the best opportunity. The Austrian -- still reeling from his nation’s loss to Scotland in soccer -- could put pressure on Lowry by finishing anywhere inside the top 50, depending, of course, on the Irishman’s own finish.

As Lowry succinctly put it, a few people are “gunning” for the place he currently holds in the squad Padraig Harrington will lead at Whistling Straits later this month.

“I'm in a great position,” said Lowry. “I’ve worked very hard this year to get there. I've spent definitely the last five, six years trying to make a Ryder Cup team. I feel like I've got a great opportunity this week and I’m looking forward to going out and trying to do it. I've played some really good golf over the last while and my form is good, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I can only look after myself and try to shoot the best scores I can and have the best week I can. If there's a place where I'm coming to and have to perform, Wentworth is it.”

On the subject of Portrush, Lowry was understandably pleased to see golf’s oldest major returning so soon after what was, so far at least, the highlight of his career. But he wasn’t surprised. Quite apart from Lowry’s success back in 2019, the event was a triumph for Northern Ireland, the magnificent Dunluce links and the sell-out crowds. Little wonder then that the R&A are keen to leave Great Britain for only the third time and take what will be the 153rd Open back across the Irish Sea.

“In my very biased opinion, it's one of the best Opens I've ever played in,” said Lowry with a big smile. “Anybody you talked to - the American players and the others who played - they really enjoyed the venue and thought it was one of the great Opens. So it's great to be going back there in 2025. I’m looking forward to it. I don't have to worry about being in it or not. I'll be there.”

A visit to Whistling Straits is less certain, however. But the next four days will provide the answer to that question for Lowry and that host of hopefuls. Stay tuned.