Shane Lowry’s quip that Whistling Straits is “like a summer’s day in Ireland” reflects just how much he feels at home in Wisconsin this week, and that applies just as much to his place in the European Ryder Cup team as it does the conditions.
With the wind whipping in off the coast of Lake Michigan, it’s probably not going to be too dissimilar to the conditions he faced when winning the Irish Open at County Louth or, more recently, The Open at Royal Portrush.
But the bigger challenge for Lowry recently has been blocking out the naysayers who believe he is only in the team because he is friends with captain Padraig Harrington, with a rather vocal minority believing the wildcard pick should have gone to another player, such as Justin Rose.
Whether or not you agree is subjective, but the facts show that Lowry is one of the most consistent players on Tour, having not missed a cut since March’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. While a win has remained elusive in that time, he has racked up six top-12 finishes – two in Majors – and was 11th at the BMW PGA Championship.
He was the last man to drop out of the automatic qualifying spots, too, so it’s not like he was a long way off missing out on the team anyway. But when asked whether being a captain’s pick put more pressure on his shoulders, Lowry balked at the suggestion.
“You can’t feel any more pressure than there’s probably going to be out there on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You’re playing for your team, you’re playing for your continent, we’re playing for the European Tour. We’re playing for a whole lot of things,” he said.
“Obviously I’m a captain’s pick but, look, I was very close to making the team. I was the first man out; I felt like I deserved a pick. I feel like I deserve to be here, so if I didn’t feel like I deserved to be here it would probably be a bit different, but I really feel like I deserve to be here. I’m just excited for the week ahead.”
With this being Lowry’s rookie Ryder Cup, it makes sense that he’s been leaning on the experience of those who have been there and done it before, one in particular being fellow countryman Graeme McDowell.
The Rathmore man, who is acting as vice-captain to Harrington, has a strong record in Ryder Cups, winning nine points in 15 matches, and it was his victory over Hunter Mahan that handed Europe the trophy in 2010 at Celtic Manor.
Lowry added: “(The Ryder Cup) is everything I expected and way more. We get into the hotel and we go down into our team room, and it’s just the setup in there and just sitting around and being a part of a group like this, it’s hard to explain how special it is.
“I had a good chat with G-Mac the other day and he said at certain points you kind of want to stand back this week and really look at what you’re doing and soak it all in, and I’m trying to do that as best I can. It’s just so special to be here. It really is.
“Anybody that’s known me, anybody that’s been my friends and family back home, my team, anybody that’s been involved with me over the last 10 years knows how much I really wanted to be here, and I’m here now, and it’s just… yeah, it’s everything I expected and more.”