Shane Lowry guaranteed for Ryder Cup despite frustrating points rule
Shane Lowry is the odd-one out in the list of 2019 Major winners that includes Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland.
According to Team Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry was joined by a stack of family, friends, well-wishers and fellow golfers to 'drink all the beer in the players lounge'.
The celebrations are continuing today at Bar 37 on Dawson Street, Dublin and there should be a raucous Offaly homecoming soon enough. Lowry has earned the right to soak this Open win up for the next few weeks but, truth be told, he'll probably be focusing on his next tournament soon enough.
Coming into 2019, back when he was ranked 75 in the world, the Clara native set his sights on hitting the type of form that would secure him a Ryder Cup place in 2020. Having missed out on the European comeback victory in France, last September, the 32-year-old is determined to be involved at Whistling Straits next year.
When Lowry spoke with us earlier this year, ahead of the US Masters, the Ryder Cup was not far from his thoughts.
"It’s almost like when you’re playing football as a young lad and your da’s the manager, it’s harder to get on the team.
"In the next 18 months, that's definitely the priority but I don’t think I’ll get a pick, I think I’ll have to make the team on pure merit.
"With Paddy being the captain, I’d love to be on that plane going over to play the Americans and I feel like I’ve put myself in a position to make the team but obviously now I just need to go and play the golf to do it."
He certainly is playing the golf to do it and Harrington was not the only one raving about his six-shot victory:
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) July 21, 2019
Since the start of the year, Lowry has won the Abu Dhabi Championship, finished second at the Canadian Open, third at The Heritage and eighth at the US PGA.
He is now ranked No.1 in the European Tour's 'Race to Dubai', 17th in the world [his highest ever ranking] and 18th in the Fed Ex Cup standings. All of this is much welcome, and merited, but none of his recent performances will go towards the 2020 Ryder Cup, officially at least.
European players do not start earning Ryder Cup points until September of this year, 12 months out from the next staging of the trans-Atlantic tournament. This is in contrast to Team USA.
Here is the criteria to become an automatic selection for Steve Stricker's side:
- 2019 major championships
- 2019 World Golf Championship events and The Players Championship (half points)
- 2020 major championships (double points for the winner, 50% extra for those who make the cut)
- 2020 PGA Tour events. Qualifying events in this category are those played between January 1 and August 23, 2020
Stricker also has four 'Captain's Picks' to bring his team up to 12 players. Harrington will have three 'Captain's Picks'.
Team Europe does not award any points for major championship or Players' Championship performances in 2019 so that does not help the likes of Lowry [Open winner], Rory McIlroy [TPC winner] or Graeme McDowell [16th, 29th and 57th in the last three majors].
Here is the criteria to become an automatic selection for Harrington's side:
- The leading four players on the Race to Dubai Points List - Points earned in all Race tournaments starting in September 2019 with the BMW PGA Championship and ending with the BMW PGA Championship in September 2020. Points earned in the later events of 2020 will be multiplied by 1.5.
- The leading five players, not qualified above, on the World Points List - Total World Points earned in Official World Golf Ranking events starting in September 2019 with the BMW PGA and ending with the BMW PGA, 12 months later. Points earned in the later events of 2020 will be multiplied by 1.5.
So the European 'race' only gets underway at Wentworth on September 19. Lowry does have a couple of things going in his favour, however.
His red-hot form and clutch performances, these past six months, were surely have impressed Harrington and convinced him to include the Offaly man in his final 12.
Lowry's win has also propelled him up the rankings and both the 'Race to Dubai' and 'Fed Ex' standings, meaning he will be playing at all the big tournaments for the next 12 months, and beyond. His Open victory gets him exemptions to all four majors at TPC (at Sawgrass - 'the fifth major') for the next five years.
The bigger the tournaments, the bigger the purses and points. Lowry will be gunning for more wins in the next 14 months but playing steady golf in all these flag-ship events should be enough to tie down one of the automatic spots.
He'd want it no other way than that.