By Bernie McGuire in Abu Dhabi.
Open Championship hero and reigning BMW PGA champ Shane Lowry along with Seamus Power delivered top Scot Robert MacIntyre a resounding vote of confidence ahead of this week’s Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Lowry, Power and MacIntyre played a three-ball practice round, as all 20 players of the GB&I and European teams took to the host National course Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
To spice-up their match, Lowry, Power and MacIntyre arranged a 100 Dirham (£25) each bank note individual ‘skins’ game over the 18 holes, with Power collecting the money, winning nine holes to MacIntyre’s seven while Lowry failed to bag a hole, and with the other two halved.
MacIntyre was clearly enjoying the occasion, at times laughing his head off, and joining Power in taking the proverbial out of the luckless Lowry who won the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the same course, six months ahead of the Irishman lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush.
Joining the group as keen observers were European Ryder Cup vice-captains Nicolas Colsaerts and Eduardo Molinari while the group was also joined late in the round by victorious Ryder Cup winning back-to-back captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.
Olazabal and McGinley were brought out to Abu Dhabi at the request of European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald to help inspire all 20 players, and judging by their talk to players on Tuesday night, they hit the spot.
Lowry said: “I was sitting in the room last night listening to Jose Maria, Paul, Thomas (Bjorn) and Luke relaying so many great Ryder Cup stories.
“It does get your juices flowing and it was kind of inspirational listening to them while they played some videos of some really special European Ryder Cup moments.”
And once on the host course, the World No. 20 ranked Lowry was also clearly impressed with MacIntyre’s effort with the short stick.
Lowry said: “Bob MacIntyre with the putter in hand was really impressive out there today, so much so, if you asked me who I’d pick someone to hole a 10-footer on Sunday on the 18th that would win the Hero Cup for GB&I, I would call on Bob.
“Bob’s not only a good putter but there’s something about his make-up that when he walks-up to a putt you kinda know he’s going to hole it.
“That’s a trait we saw when he won out in Italy last year and you could see him do really well this coming year.”
And Power, who arrived in the UAE as the current PGA Tour No. 1 and met MacIntyre for the first time this week, was in agreement.
Power said: “I would have to agree with Shane. I’ve not played with Bob before and his putting was pure.”
BIRDIE TIME ..
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MacIntyre, who last played in a team event as an amateur in the 2017 Walker Cup, is naturally looking forward to Friday’s start to competition despite not fitting into the team trousers laid out for him in his hotel room
He said (smiling): “I tried on my trousers but they were a bit small but then I put that down to Christmas and overeating but no worry, as I changed them.
“It was cool walking into my hotel room seeing everything laid out, and it’s just cool being a part of this week.
“I’m here also feeling I earned being here as a member of the GB&I team, as 2022 was an alright year. It wasn’t my best season but it was a good finish, winning in Italy, and I was happy in steadying the ship.
“I am just enjoying myself again, and I think you saw that out there today playing alongside Shane and Seamus.”