Donald not the least bit worried about Lowry’s winless Hero Cup record

Fatiha Betscher

Shane Lowry shakes hands with Francesco Molinari (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Fatiha Betscher

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By Fatiha Betscher in Abu Dhabi.

Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has assured Shane Lowry remains very much in frame to be heading to Rome later this year despite Lowry’s hurt in losing all four matches at the Hero Cup.

Lowry’s disappointing on-course display ended at the hands of Continental European captain, Francesco Molinari with his fellow Open Champion never allowing the Irishman to get in front in delivering a Sunday Singles 3&2 defeat.

The champion Italian, who won the 2018 Open Championship a year prior to Lowry, birdied three of the opening four holes in racing to 3up before Lowry was back level-pegging with birdies of his own at the seventh, eighth and 11th holes.

That’s the closest Molinari allowed Lowry to get, winning the 12th and 13th holes with birdies before Lowry found a fairway and then greenside bunkers at the 16th to concede victory in taking a double-bogey.

Lowry, very much hurting after another loss, was gracious in defeat with the duo embracing each other before turning to head back down the 16th fairway and meet-up their respective team-mates behind.

It was Molinari at his match-play best and after being undefeated in five matches at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Versailles, he was unbeaten in Abu Dhabi in securing three wins and a half to have secured 8½ points in 9 matches.

“It feels good getting that first point and it was great to play alongside Shane,” said Molinari soon after his win.

“We each played some great golf, back-and-forward making birdies and also hitting really good shots, but then it was nice to come out on top.”

Watching the match was Donald and while present to congratulate the brother of one of his current three Rome vice-captains, there was also a ‘well done’ reaching arm from Donald to his close-by Florida neighbour.

And despite Lowry’s frustration and disappointment over the four matches, not for a minute is Donald harbouring any thoughts of Lowry being ruled out of the Rome selection picture.

“I know Shane’s been disappointed with his play but then he did play a lot better over the weekend but then he came up against some class opposition, including Francesco on the Singles,” said Donald.

“However, Shane isn’t someone that I would have been worried about if he had gone nil and four, like he did this week so much so; I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out and won this week at Yas Links (smiling).

“Shane’s that good a player and these things like not winning in a match happen in that format of the game so while he’s gutted, he did not contribute to the team points-wise, he was great in the team-room.

“So, even though he didn’t win a match, I didn’t leave the course the least bit worried about Shane.”

Molinari’s continued superb showing in match-play format must surely have Donald thinking that in also heading to Rome, how could he not include Molinari whose brother Eduardo is a vice-captain.

“Francesco’s individual efforts this week are very impressive,” said Donald.

“He’s got a good match-play head to me and that’s why a lot of guys call him ‘The Robot’ because he just hits it straight all the time, and just keeps putting pressure on his opponent all the time.

“He just always seems to play the right shot at the right time and I’m happy.”

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