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Getting right in 2022

Shane Lowry says he suffered Ryder Cup blues after Whistling Straits drubbing: 'I actually felt sick. I felt rundown.'

January 19, 2022

Shane Lowry says he's finally put Europe's Ryder Cup loss from September behind him, but that it took months to get over the disappointment.

Oisin Keniry

ABU DHABI — The wide smile on Shane Lowry’s face said it all. The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth had just concluded last September, and European Ryder Cup skipper Padraig Harrington had made his captain’s picks. One of those, of course, went to his fellow Irishman, a fact that had clearly come as something of a relief to Lowry, trying to make the team for the first time. His excitement was palpable, the pleasure written all over his expressive features.

That was to change, of course. Two weeks later, Lowry was part of an Old World squad that suffered a record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits. The former Open champion did account for one of those nine, winning one of his three matches. But, not surprisingly, it wasn’t the greatest week of his career, at least in a playing sense.

The negative effects lingered, too. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, where he will compete in the eponymous HSBC Championship to start his 2022 DP World Tour season, the 2019 winner revealed how he had actually been feeling in the wake of that traumatic week in Wisconsin.

“There was a reaction,” he said. “For two months after I actually felt sick. I felt rundown. I felt under the weather. I felt like I was running at maybe 75 percent capacity. I really struggled. I had tried so hard to make that team. I put everything into it.”

Help and advice was at hand, however.

“I spoke to a few people. about it,” Lowry said. “Tyrrell [Hatton] told me it took him six months to come down from France [in 2018]. And they won that one. So it was a comedown for them. I spoke to Westy [Lee Westwood]. He’s played in quite a few of them. He took a big break after last year. In contrast, I went to Mexico. I went to Houston. I remember thinking to myself, ‘What are you doing?’ Because they didn’t really matter. Obviously, it would have been great to win one or both of them. But even two second places would have made no difference to me. They were tournaments I didn’t need to play. I should have taken time off, played in the Race to Dubai and been happy with what I’d done.”

Lowry is perhaps being a little hard on himself. Yes, his post-Ryder Cup play on the PGA Tour was little more than desultory. A T-54 finish at the CJ Cup was followed by missed cuts in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and the HPE Houston Open. But he fared better on home ground: T-4 at the Dunhill Links Championship immediately after the Ryder Cup and a T-9 at the DP World Tour Championship to close the year. Even at those though, the Ryder after-effects were lingering.

“You live and learn,” Lowry said. “Next time I’ll know not to run around so much. It was a huge comedown. For the year leading up to the matches, the whole qualification process, no matter what tournament I was playing in, the Ryder Cup was in the back of my head. No matter what position I was in, or what score I was shooting, I was always trying to be better and move up in the qualifying. That went on the whole year.

“I didn’t have that towards the end of the year,” he continued. “I was just going through the motions. I wasn’t enjoying my golf. And when that is the case, it’s not pretty. Or fun. I was so happy to finish in Dubai at the end of the season. Even there, when I was leading after two rounds and had half a sniff going into Sunday, it was struggle for me. The only thing that got me through that week was being in contention. I was so rundown, tired and lethargic on the course.”

Happily, those feelings have gone. Refreshed after a two-month break from competition, Lowry expressed himself “ready to go” this week. And yes, the smile was back.