The talk was between Adrian Meronk and Nicolai Hojgaard.. But could Shane Lowry have been on the chopping block…?
The passion, the ability, the class – Shane Lowry has it all.
But, did he actually deserve a place in Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team?
There was plenty of talk leading up to the announcement of the European Ryder Cup selections.
After Ludvig Aberg won in Switzerland to cap off his meteoric rise to the team in just a few months, it left one spot in the team realistically.
Would it be Poland’s Adrian Meronk or Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard? There was no mention of whether 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry could miss out.
That surprises me because statistically, Lowry has been poor over the last two seasons. His stats look worse when you compare them to Meronk, the man who missed out on the team.
How do Shane Lowry’s results stack up?
When you look at the statistics, it appears obvious that the Pole should be playing in the Ryder Cup in Rome.
Since the start of 2022, Lowry has played in fewer events, won less and has less finishes in both the top five and top 10.
Here are some numbers comparing the three Europeans in contention since the start of 2022:
|Shane Lowry||Adrian Meronk||Nicolai Hojgaard|
|Best Major Finish||T3 – Masters 2022||T23 – Open 2023||T23 – Open 2023|
|Season-long race positions||FedEx Cup – 78th||Race to Dubai – 3rd||Race to Dubai – 15th|
Adrian Meronk claimed three victories, winning the Horizon Irish Open, ISPS Handa Australian Open and the DS Automobiles Italian Open, which just happened to take place at a venue called Marco Simone…
In the same time frame, Nicolai Hojgaard won just once, at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in 2022. He did win at Marco Simone two years ago though, showing he has what it takes to perform on this year’s Ryder Cup course.
Lowry’s sole win came at the BMW PGA Championship in 2022, and he will defend his crown at Wentworth next week. This is the biggest of stages when it comes to the DP World Tour, with the BMW PGA being it’s flagship event.
Although his form hasn’t been the best in 2023, the Irishman did show that he can still bring his best at the biggest of tournaments.
He finished inside the top 20 at three of the season’s four majors, with a best result of T12 coming at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. That was sandwiched in between a T16 at the Masters Tournament and a T20 result at Los Angeles Country Club, at the US Open.
If we look at the statistics and the different categories, Lowry has not been playing at his sparkling best this season.
Admittedly, you have to say that the quality of player on the PGA Tour is higher than it is on the DP World Tour, but Shane Lowry still sits outside the top 25 in terms of Strokes Gained: Total.
The Irishman is known for being somewhat of a short-game wizard, but he has not shown that this season. In Stroked Gained: Around the Green, he ranks just 83rd, while on the greens, it’s been even worse.
This season, Lowry has actually lost strokes on the field when it comes to his putting. He sits 117th in the rankings for Strokes Gained: Putting with a current rating of -0.080.
The worrying part about this particular statistic is that we all know that the Ryder Cup often comes down to who can hole the most putts. Right now, that is not going to be Shane Lowry in Rome.
Bearing in mind that McIlroy and Rahm play the majority of their golf on the PGA Tour, that arguably makes Adrian Meronk the most consistent and best performer on the DP World Tour in the 2022-2023 season.
All of this leads to the question of why should Lowry have been awarded a captain’s pick?
What does Shane Lowry bring to Team Europe?
We all know what Shane Lowry is capable of. He has showed us that time and time again on the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour.
He won as an amateur at the Irish Open back in 2009 to break through onto the world’s stage, and ten years later, the Irishman won on home soil at Royal Portrush, lifting the Claret Jug in front of his adoring fans.
Lowry also has victories at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the aforementioned BMW PGA Championship, the DP World Tour’s flagship tournament.
Then, there’s the passion.
His only appearance in the Ryder Cup to date came in the historic 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Lowry’s celebration after sinking the putt to win on Saturday afternoon alongside Tyrrell Hatton was one of the few high points from a very poor competition from the European team.
“He’s very passionate. He loves those team atmospheres,” captain Luke Donald said ahead of the Horizon Irish Open.
“I think he grew up around team sports when he was younger. You know, you never walk into a room and see Shane on his own. He’s always got people around him. He’s got good chat. He’s got good energy, good passion.
“And then golf-wise, he’s proven himself in many big occasions, championship winner at Wentworth, he won a WGC. The biggest moments, he’s able to deliver. And we saw some of that obviously at Whistling Straits with that passion, holing putts when he needed to.
“Part of the process of having six picks, some of them you have to pick on just knowing that they have been there and you know that they have been in those situations. Shane certainly fits into that category.”
Could we see Lowry and McIlroy together in an all-Irish partnership? Maybe that was behind the thinking from the European captain and his backroom staff.
We know that Lowry can play good golf, but will he be able to bring any sort of form into the Ryder Cup? Although I can understand why Luke Donald selected Shane Lowry, if it had been me, the Irishman would be at home, not in Rome.
For me, Shane Lowry has not done enough to deserve a spot at the Ryder Cup, but maybe it is an inspired pick… Only time will tell.
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