Major Olympics boost for Shane Lowry as he enters Top 10
Now we're talking.
On Monday, we lamented that Shane Lowry's Open Championship victory would earn him '0' Ryder Cup points, for Team Europe, but there is some great news regarding the 2020 Olympics.
From July 30 to August 2 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, next year, some of the golfing world's top talents will compete for gold medals in the Olympics second ever staging of the sport.
In 2016, Ireland had four representatives in the men's and women's tournaments - Padraig Harrington, Seamus Power, Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire. Power [tied 15th] and Maguire [tied 21st] were the top finishers in competitions won by Justin Rose [Great Britain] and Inbee Park [South Korea].
Lowry claimed his first ever 'Major' on Sunday by blitzing the chasing pack to win by six strokes at Royal Portrush. In doing so, the Offaly native won €1.7 million, climbed to the top of the European golf standings, to 18th in the FedEx Cup and a new high of 17th in the world.
The 32-year-old is dead-set on automatically qualifying for the 2020 Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits, and set out his agenda at Portrush:
"I love playing the European Tour. I'll be back in September to start my quest of making the Ryder Cup team next year, and that's my focus the next 12 months."
Lowry will have hopefully put himself in a great position to do that, or potentially have picked up enough points to qualify, by the time the Tokyo Olympics come around in late July.
Only 60 golfers will make the Olympics field, with the top 15 golfers in the world guaranteed slots, provided there are not another four countrymen [and countrywomen] ranked higher.
The bonus for Lowry is that Official World Golf Ranking points are being counted from July 1, 2019 up until June 30, 2020. That means Lowry's Open victory, and the huge points collected for that, now go towards Olympic qualification.
As it stands, Lowry is placed 10th in the Olympic qualifying rankings while Rory McIlroy is third:
He may be No.17 in the world but the confluence of Americans in the top 20 means not all would automatically make the cut. Here are the Americans Lowry has leapfrogged:
- Justin Thomas
- Patrick Cantlay
- Xander Schauffele
- Tony Finau
- Rickie Fowler
- Gary Woodland
- Matt Kuchar
Unless there are some major developments in the next 12 months, McIlroy and Lowry will represent Team Ireland in Tokyo. The competition is an individual event - as opposed to a team or pairs competition - so there is a possibility that Ireland could get a medal or two.
In the women's event, Maguire and Meadow - the current world No.197 and No.299 - are our best bets there.