'I won The Open by six shots in my home country, but this was the best week of my golfing career'
"I said to Beau, 'I'm made for this!'"
Shane Lowry did not just rise to the Ryder Cup pressure, on Saturday. He soared. He was put in an awfully tough spot against an in-form American team and he pulled out a big winning putt.
The Offaly native played in Friday and Saturday four-balls, on his Ryder Cup debut, and won a point for Europe when he teamed up with Tyrrell Hatton to down Harris English and Tony Finau. Having been in trouble on the 17th, Lowry then stepped up to sink the winning par putt on 18.
Following that win, and when he had finally come back down to earth, he commented:
"I said to Beau [my caddy], 'I'm made for this.' I said it to him. 'I'm made for this. This is it.'
"And I didn't know I was going to hole it, but I knew I was going to try my best, and I'm so happy it went in."
That point gave Europe a glimmer of hope before Team USA took the final two four-ball matches and went into the Sunday Singles 11-5 to the good. Such was the faith Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington had in him, that he sent Lowry out second, just behind Rory McIlroy.
He birdied the second hole to go 1-Up but the piping hot Patrick Cantlay won the next four holes and maintained a commanding lead as the game headed down the back nine. Lowry fought back with birdies on 10 and 12, but Cantlay [the World No.4] answered back to win four straight holes and take a 4&2 victory.
Footage, recorded just off the back of the 16th green and shared by the Team Europe Twitter account, shows just how distraught Lowry was to lose.
In his mind, he had been sent out early to turn the board blue and put some pressure on the heavily-fancied Americans. He was -2 over the first 16 holes - not bad going. On the day, though, he just met his match.
There was plenty of support around, but Lowry needed a while to get it all out of his system.
Gosh, this is a tough one.
Wasn't to be, but Lowry fought his heart out and delivered a great moment on the Saturday pic.twitter.com/L1i6rx4jps
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 27, 2021
Rory McIlroy made it to the 16th green to see the conclusion of that match. He had beaten Xander Schauffele then pegged it back down the course to support his teammates.
Both men, who have been friends, teammates and even golfing rivals over the past 16 years, shared a tearful embrace.
Europe would eventually go on to lose 19-9 to a rampant US side. Not long after the Ryder Cup was presented to Team USA captain Steve Stricker, the Europeans filed into the media tent to share their thoughts on what had been a chastening few days.
Lowry may have been gutted to lose, but he spoke of the pride he felt in representing such a close band of brothers, and earned a warm round of applause at the end of these comments (below):
"I spent years trying to make a Ryder Cup team and I got here this week and didn't know what to expect. I have probably done something that I only could have dreamed of.
"I won The Open by six shots in my home country and this week is by far the best week of my golfing career. To be able to share the team room with these boys, to be able to play for Paddy [Harrington], it's just been so special.
"I said to the lads last night, 'I'm having the time of my life and we're six points behind. What's it going to be like when we're leading?' No matter how long I play, for the rest of my career, I'll want be to be part of this team. You just form a special bond with people. There's just something there that we'll always have.
"I had a great moment on the 18th green yesterday and tried to do my bit for the team. We came up obviously a long way short but it's just been an incredible experience and something that I'll remember for the rest of my life."
And, as if that is not enough to raise spirits, just look at the respect and warmth the likes of US stars like Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau have for Clara's finest.
— Ryder Cup (@rydercup) September 26, 2021
Lowry and McIlroy will both be determined to get back and help get The Ryder Cup back, in Italy, in two years' time.