European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington is prepared to hand now fellow Open Champion, Shane Lowry the lead match honours at next year’s Ryder Cup.
Harrington was among the first to embrace the teary-eyed Lowry at the back of the 18th green on Sunday after Lowry stormed to a six-shot success at Royal Portrush.
The 2020 Ryder Cup qualifying process does not commence until September’s BMW PGA Championship meaning Lowry’s not assured of selection in 16-months. However, given his impressive Portrush showing, and in conditions that could be replicated along the shores of Lake Michigan, Lowry’s the type of player Harrington will clearly need if Europe are to retain the Cup.
“Shane is just the player I would want to lead out my team, given Whistling Straits is likely to be windy and tough,” said Harrington.
“Shane is a strong player and he’s shown he can clearly handle pressure.
“So, if he does earn his place in the side, then I really hope he will be leading out the team.”
It was Harrington who ignited this amazing run of five Open Championships, two U.S. Open’s and a PGA Championship titles in 13-years from the small but heavy hitting golfing island of Ireland.
At Royal Portrush, Lowry showed he’s got the mettle and the bottle to win more Majors and that’s exactly what Harrington is predicting.
“Shane winning a Major Championship is as good as it gets in golf,” said Harrington.
“It was sheer brilliance. He has proved he can win on the big, big occasions and he’s proved he can handle the pressure.
“This isn’t a catalyst … this is it. This is what it is. You shouldn’t think of this as a stepping-stone. You should think of this as where he is.
“I don’t think too many players in the game of golf would relish playing against him now in the final rounds.”
In more good news for the Clara golfer, Lowry’s Portrush triumph has seen him jump to World No. 17 to match a career-high ranking he enjoyed back in late 2015.
The win hands him a 10-year PGA Tour exemption along with a five-year exemption into The Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship. He will also be afforded Life Membership of the European Tour and be honoured, no doubt, later this year by the Irish Golf Writers Association as their ‘Golfer of the Year. And Harrington’s backing Lowry to win more majors too.
“Every win Shane has had has been a big win at various stages of his career,” Harrington added.
“Shane has the ability to win under extreme pressure and yes, I see him winning more Majors.”