sweet emotion

Ryder Cup 2023: Shane Lowry tried to control his emotions, failed, and won anyway

September 29, 2023

Ramsey Cardy

ROME — On Ryder Cup Friday, it's inevitable that you'll see a few pairings consisting of one veteran and one rookie. The idea behind it is that the veteran's experience will not only give the rookie a measure of emotional balance, but also help him shepherd his rookie charge through a high-pressure match. When Luke Donald decided to pair Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka on Friday morning in the foursomes session, that was his intent—Lowry is a major champion with one Ryder Cup under his belt, while Straka was the wide-eyed newbie. A nice concept, on paper.

In reality? Asking Shane Lowry to keep calm at the Ryder Cup is like asking a dog to chill out when it hears a fire engine; you can hold the leash, but you better hold on pretty tight. As it happened, he didn't even make it to his first shot. Before he stepped onto the first tee, he watched on the big screen as Viktor Hovland chipped in on the first green in the group ahead. Before he ever hit a shot, Lowry was celebrating wildly.

"I was trying to stay calm," he joked, "and started losing my mind on the first tee ... I lost it. That's what the Ryder Cup does to me."

Nevertheless, Lowry and Straka kept it together to beat Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa 2 and 1 in a match they never trailed. Straka was the better player by some distance, but both Europeans seemed to be smiling and cheering their way around Marco Simone, while the American procession was comparatively grim. On the 17th hole, Lowry stood over a 28-foot birdie putt, needing only to run it close to clinch the match. Instead, he came up just short enough to make Straka nervous, but the Austrian coolly sunk the putt to clinch the point.

"I wanted to give Sepp his moment in the Ryder Cup to hole the pin winning putt," Lowry joked.

"Having Shane on my side was amazing," Straka said. "I wouldn't say he calmed me down. He did not. But he kept me comfortable, he kept it fun."

Lowry revealed that Donald had spoken to him during the week about having a level demeanor and keeping Straka's temperature low.

"I'm not sure I did a great job of that," he said.

One reporter joked that he was even fist-pumping when Justin Rose found a fairway, then asked Lowry why he was so invested in the Ryder Cup.

"Why wouldn't I be invested?" he answered. "I'm European. I play professional golf for a living. This is where you want to be."

Enough said.

Both players took the afternoon off, and whether we see a reprise Saturday morning, it was a memorable first win for Straka and an emotional triumph for Europe's official vibes guy.