Much has been made about the suitability of this week’s Whistling Straits test to the sweet swinging wind specialist, Shane Lowry. Entrusted by Captain Padraig Harrington with one of three wildcard picks, perhaps it was Lowry’s ability to cope with whatever the golfing gods throw at this week’s Ryder Cup in Wisconsin that swayed selection in his favour.
As it happens, the lead-up to Friday’s matches has brought with it a cool, windy weather front, seeing players rug-up in practice as they get a feel for the links-like set-up at Whistling Straits. And although warmer temperatures look set to sweep in from Friday, a steady breeze should remain a constant, with Lowry admitting he’s felt right at home in conditions since arriving on site.
“I’m pretty happy with the conditions here to be honest,” he said when facing the media on Wednesday.
“I’m pretty happy with the golf course and that cold wind. It feels very much like a summer’s day in Ireland when you’re out there. It’s quite difficult to play in these conditions because you need to get your head around hitting a 6-iron 150 yards as opposed to normally most guys hitting their 6-iron over 200 yards.
“It’s just little things like that I feel might help me this week. How do you cope with it? Sometimes it’s hard to practice around here. You just kind of need to know how to do it, and I feel like I know how to do it. Very excited to get out there and compete and hopefully win some points.”
Lowry is one of three European rookies this week alongside Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger and although it would be unfair to place too much expectation on the shoulders of a first-timer, he has seen the impact a rookie can have watching compatriot Leona Maguire lead Europe to Solheim Cup success earlier this month.
Vice Captain Graeme McDowell had suggested that the 34-year old could be excused for sitting back and trying to take some of this unique experience in but far from taking a backseat in the team room, or on the golf course for that matter, the 2019 Open Champion has no doubt that he will have a major role to play in deciding the fate of this year’s Cup.
“I do believe I’ll have a big part to play in this team this week, and I do believe that I can bring a lot when it comes to it on Friday, Saturday, Sunday when push comes to shove in this tournament,” he said.
“I think I was asked about it on the Sunday evening after I got the pick – ‘what can I do this week?’ And I think if I just be myself this week, I think that’ll be good enough. I’ll just go out there and be myself and hopefully pick up some points, and like I say, hopefully win that trophy on Sunday.”
Lowry’s debut appearance adds to Ireland’s rich history at the famous biennial contest, and serves as a milestone he’s been seriously targeting for the last five years at least. Despite proudly housing a Claret Jug in his trophy cabinet, the Clara man admits he’s been itching to add a Ryder Cup cap to his resume in order to join a list alongside some of this country’s finest players. With that feat accomplished, all that’s left now is for Lowry to convert his maiden cap into a winning one.
“As an Irish player growing up, you’ve watched Ryder Cups, obviously Christy Junior, Philip Walton, Eamonn Darcy, Rory, G-Mac, Paddy, Paul [McGinley], Darren [Clarke], all the great Irish players that have played the game,” he said.
“For me, it was something that I really wanted to do and I felt like I had to do if I want to be up there with those guys when you’re talking about really good or great Irish golfers. It’s something that I felt like I let slip in 2016 and I should have made that team. I didn’t play great towards the end of that campaign.
“When I got my chance this year, I felt like I really wanted to take it. Obviously I needed a pick at the end of the day and I’m very grateful that Paddy has put his trust in me. But yeah, it’s just something as an Irish player growing up, playing a Ryder Cup is just right up there with everything.
“Obviously now that I’m here, there’s only one goal for the rest of the week, and that’s to win. That would obviously be the icing on the cake.”