Shane Lowry might have needed a pep talk from his manager to stick to his plan to play in Denmark this week, but the Offaly man knows he still has a chance to persuade Darren Clarke that he deserves a Ryder Cup wildcard.
The world No 35 missed out on automatic Ryder Cup qualification but will still play the Made in Denmark as planned, having said after a costly third-round 70 in the Wyndham Championship on Saturday that he didn’t see the point of making the 24,100km round trip.
Lowry was tempted to remain in the US for The Barclays at Bethpage Stage Park’s Black Course this week but he changed his mind again after a chat with his manager Conor Ridge.
And while it means missing out on a chance to make a big move in the FedExCup in New York, a win under the nose of Clarke and his vice-captains in Denmark would be worth his weight in gold.
“I think I just need to go [to Denmark] and win to catch their eye at all,” Lowry told Sky Sports. “Obviously, the last six weeks haven’t gone to plan since the US Open, but other than that my year has been OK.
“I’ve been playing well in the last couple of years, but just had a little bit of bad form at the wrong time.
“I feel like I can go and win [this] week, so that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
While Graeme McDowell, Russell Knox, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer are among those looking for one of three wildcards, Lowry will give it one more try at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort after a 67 left him tied for 42nd behind Korea’s Si Woo Kim in Greensboro on Sunday night.
McDowell did his wildcard chances no harm at all when he tied for fifth place, while Luke Donald, another European seeking a captain’s pick, finishing second.
Clarke faces some difficult choices as he looks to add three to the nine automatic qualifiers that already include five rookies.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick clinched the final automatic spot on Sunday when he finished fifth in the Czech Masters and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters finished a shot behind American Paul Peterson when a win would have put him in the European team.
Rory McIlroy, Masters champion Danny Willett, Open champion Henrik Stenson, and Chris Wood earning spots through the European Points list with Sergio Garcia, Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, and Fitzpatrick coming through from the European World Points list targeted by Lowry at the start of the campaign.
And given that mixture, Clarke may be reluctant to add more rookies to a team hoping to leave the US winless for the third time in a row and sixth in the last seven Ryder Cup meetings. Willett, Wood, Cabrera Bello, Sullivan, and Fitzpatrick are rookies and Clarke will surely consider Kaymer and Westwood while Pieters, Knox, and Lowry are two rookies with claims to the third spot.
Lowry finished 14th in the European Points List and 17th in the World Points List, behind Knox, Westwood, Dane Soren Kjeldsen, Pieters, Kaymer, England’s Tyrrell Hatton, and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Lowry’s manager, Conor Ridge, revealed on Sunday that he chatted with the player after the Wyndham Championship to discuss what to do now and they agreed to stick to the original plan to play in Denmark and then return to the US for the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
Having played for Europe in the EurAsia Cup win over Asia in January and claimed two points in team play alongside Ryder Cup rookie Sullivan, Lowry has already shown Clarke his team credentials.
Whether his natural camaraderie, coupled with a big performance in Denmark, will be enough to sway the Ulsterman remains to be seen.
Like Westwood and Kaymer, Donald and McDowell have impressive Ryder Cup records and should Clarke choose two of those four, it could be a straight choice between Lowry and Knox for that final seat on the plane to Hazeltine at the end of next month
McDowell knows that he needs another huge week to force Clarke’s hand but he was pleased with his finish in Greensboro and his first top five finish since the Honda Classic six months ago.
“I am really not trying to read Darren’s mind at this point,” McDowell said on Sunday. “I am trying to stay as relaxed as I can. I came into this week and thought anything positive was going to be a good week for me and it was a nice week.
“Going into next week, I’ll be focusing hard on the playoffs and if I happen to get myself on the radar, then so be it. If not, I will wish Europe all the best and I will be pulling hard for them.”
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