Shane Lowry’s fondness for the famed ‘Burma Road’ West Course is going to be tested like never before when he tees-up in this weeks’ BMW PGA Championship.
Lowry remains overall ninth on the European Ryder Cup team standings following last weekend’s Italian Open and the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship decider in Atlanta.
The Irishman’s big concern in being knocked out of the current nine automatic qualifiers had been Sergio Garcia however his eventual share of 14th place at East Lake has seen Garcia end his European qualifying run at 10th on the table.
And with Garcia indicating he would not contest this week’s BMW PGA it now means the Spaniard is going to require a Padraig Harrington ‘wildcard’ pick if he’s to pull on the European team colours for a 10th occasion in his career.
Now Lowry’s closest rivals for the last automatic spot are the three next best players on the ‘World’ points table with those being the 11th ranked Bernd Wiesberger, 12th ranked Victor Perez and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre at 13th.
Most observers agree, Harrington is not going to pick Wiesberger, Perez or MacIntyre if they fail to qualify automatically and instead will choose from a group of tried-and-tested European team hard heads including Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and/or Justin Rose.
Harrington’s task in selecting his three ‘wildcard’ picks around 8pm this coming Sunday night will also be that much tougher should Lowry drop out of the top-nine and find his place secured by either Wiesberger, Perez or MacIntyre.
It’s why Lowry’s efforts this week at Tour HQ will be key in Harrington’s decision-making process. Of course, Harrington may go with Lowry if he should drop out of the automatic nine qualifiers but then if Wiesberger, Perez or MacIntyre do seize that ninth spot it means Harrington taking three rookies with him to Wisconsin should he go with Lowry.
In Lowry’s enormous favour this week is his record around the famed ‘Burma Road’ West Course with four top-10s in his unbroken run of 11 appearances since his debut in 2010.
And Wentworth’s been good to Lowry in other ways such as his share of sixth in 2015 earning him a U.S. Open tee time.
“I like I quite like the place and if I could play 25 tournaments on this golf course a year, then I would,” Lowry once said in being asked about Wentworth.
“Wentworth is probably my favourite tournament of the year as we get looked after really well, and I just love the golf course, so along with the nice crowds it’s a really enjoyable week.”
Two years ago, Lowry teed-up at Wentworth in what was then the opening event for qualifying for the 2020 Ryder Cup. It was also his first event back in Europe since capturing the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
And he was then asked his thoughts of contesting the 2019 BMW PGA.
“When I first played at Wentworth in 2010, I remember I couldn’t believe how big it was – it felt like playing a Major,” Lowry said two years ago.
“I’ve had decent success there and I love the whole area.
“It’s a great place, the fans are very knowledgeable, we get to stay in nice places nearby. It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year, so to be able to go back there as Open Champion – my first time playing back in Europe – that is going to be unbelievable.
“It’s a golf course which I’ve always loved, before and after the changes they made. If I go there with my game in decent shape, I know I can perform at Wentworth and I feel like it’s a tournament I can do well in, so hopefully I can put in another good performance there this year.”
And there is another incentive that Lowry spoke of two years ago and that is his desire to be on the flight to Wisconsin though not knowing at the time what would soon cripple the world we live in.
“Wentworth is obviously the start of Ryder Cup qualification and it’s been no secret that it is now my main goal for the next 14 months or so,” he said at the time.
“The fact that Padraig (Harrington) is captain, it would be very special to play under him because I’m very good friends with him.
“Hopefully I can play well, pick up some Ryder Cup points and give it a good run next year.”
LOWRY’S BMW PGA CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
2020 – T13th
2019 – T11th
2018 – T15th
2017 – T6th
2016 – Missed Cut
2015 – T6th
2014 – 2nd
2013 – T12th
2012 – T68th
2011 – T4th
2010 – T65th
Lowest score – 64, Second round 2014
Highest score – 79 Third round 2012
BMW PGA career prize-money – Euro 1, 411, 756