Sport Golf

Tuesday 12 November 2019

McIlroy backing Lowry in quest to make Ryder Cup team


Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy might have 25 worldwide wins but he's still pulling for former amateur pal Shane Lowry.

As he raced straight to the top of the European Ryder Cup rankings with his WGC-HSBC Champions win, McIlroy is hoping Open champion Lowry will be joining him under Pádraig Harrington's orders in Wisconsin next year.

"Shane has turned into a great player," McIlroy told in Shanghai. "His swing has not changed since he's been on tour, he's one of the best players with a wedge in his hands and he does it his way and it works.

"He hasn't tried to go off track and go to different coaches. It's very smart that he keeps it simple."

As McIlroy takes two weeks off to recharge his batteries for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, third-ranked Lowry will be bidding to close the gap on Bernd Wiesberger in the Race to Dubai at this week's Turkish Airlines Open.

If he can claim his third win of the year, the pride of Clara will take a giant step up the Ryder Cup points list.

And McIlroy is certainly keen to see his old amateur team-mate make the side having been a big admirer of his game since they won the first of back-to-back European Amateur Team Championships at Western Gailes in 2007.

"Hopefully Shane is in the team," McIlroy said. "All the European guys love him. He would be great in the team environment and he's got a bit of fire to him. I know he feels a bit of pressure to make the team but if he keeps playing the golf he's been playing, he shouldn't have any issues.

"Guys who haven't played before can make qualifying a big issue. But you just have to go and play and if you play well, which he should do, he'll make the team.

"I still have to make the team too but I'd love if we were both on there and playing under Pádraig, that would be pretty cool."

Lowry has looked up to McIlroy since their amateur days, playing a practice round with him at Baltray before going on to win the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009.

It was McIlroy who encouraged him to forget about the Walker Cup and seize his chance to play on tour and Lowry is happy he took the plunge, learning the ropes gradually.

He feels fortunate that many of his Irish peers are Major winners and while that's brought pressure, it's also helped him learn from the best.

"I probably would have cursed them a little over the years," Lowry joked last week. "Because everyone asked, 'When are you going to win a Major?' And I am like, 'I don't know if I am ever going to win one.'

"But now that I've won one, I am happy enough, I feel very lucky that the other Irish players of my era have been so successful."

Lowry has become an inspiration to the younger guns such as Challenge Tour star Cormac Sharvin, a nephew of his caddie Brian Martin.

The Ardglass man goes into the final-counting Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca this week ranked ninth in the race for one of 15 European Tour cards.

He can already taste his dream but there's still work to do for the likes of five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey or McIlroy's 2007 Walker Cup foursomes partner Jonathan Caldwell at the Second Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at four Spanish venues this week.

They're part of a large Irish contingent that includes Galway amateur Ronan Mullarney, John Ross Galbraith, Luke Donnelly, David Carey, Conor O'Rourke, Tyler Hogarty, Ruaidhri McGee, Niall Kearney and Danny Brennan.

Irish Independent

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