Shane Lowry has warned the United States that Europe has the “best two players in the world” and has vowed to ensure that the blue-and-gold team’s chances of continuing their remarkable home run in the Ryder Cup are not just on the award-winning duo will rest.
Few would argue that Rory McIlroy heads the game; he is number 1 in the world and has a long hot streak. Jon Rahm, meanwhile, is only fifth in the rankings, but has won three of his last four official events, including the Tour of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday.
Luke Donald will clearly place much of his faith in the Northern Irishman and Spaniard as his side attempts to extend America’s loss record on foreign soil beyond 30 years. But Lowry is adamant that their teammates will also have to step up if they want to win the Cup back after hammering at Wisconsin in 2021.
“The two best players in the world right now are European players… I feel with Jon and Rory,” said Lowry, perhaps raising the eyebrows of Scottie Scheffler, Cam Smith and Patrick Cantlay who finished second, third and fourth respectively stand place.
“It’s up to us, the rest of the lads, to get our games to a level where we’re good enough to win the Ryder Cup at the end of the year.”
Lowry was speaking at the Hero Cup which kicks off in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Billed as the inaugural staging of the Great Britain v Ireland vs. Continental Europe match, it is actually the rebirth of the Seve Trophy which ran between 2000 and 2013. It was effectively replaced by the EurAsia Cup – Europe v Asia – but that only lasted for three editions (2014, 2016 and 2018) before being scrapped for lack of funds.
Two years ago, Padraig Harrington became the first captain of this century not to have the benefit of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal and when he was appointed last August, Donald was determined to give his wannabes a warm-up.
The Englishman has chosen Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari as their respective captains, with 10 players on each side.
Lowry turned down the chance to appear in Hawaii last week – a limited-entry PGA Tour tournament in which the last-seeded player won £170,000 – opting instead to focus on this showdown at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“Obviously I want to be part of Luke’s team in Rome, and I feel if this gives me a little bit of a head start in Rome, when I’m there, I have to play here,” said Lowry.
Lowry teams up with Fleetwood in the opening game against two other players with Ryder Cup experience, namely Swede Alex Noren and Belgian Thomas Pieters. Friday’s action consists of five fourballs, with 10 foursomes on Saturday and 10 singles on Sunday. Donald is there to oversee the match.
“It was extremely important to get an event like this back on the schedule so we can get these guys on a team and see how they perform in match play,” said Donald. “And this is a great first step, building blocks, to hopefully have a very successful Ryder Cup in Rome.”
There are no LIV players on the teams, including Adrian Otaegui, the Spaniard who is currently in the top six of the points standings and automatically qualifies for the biennial metabolism at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.