Luke’s Blues: Lowry joins Power and McIlroy in automatic places

Ronan MacNamara

Seamus Power (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Ahead of this week’s Honda Classic, Ireland have three players in the six automatic qualification places for Team Europe in September’s Ryder Cup in Marco Simone, Rome.

Shane Lowry and Seamus Power both went under the radar to secure 14th place finishes at last weeks Genesis Invitational at Riviera which saw Power move up one place to fifth, allowing Lowry to reclaim an automatic position in 6th – both via the World Points List.

After a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Lowry showed some good signs on a tough golf course and he can look forward to having another crack at winning the Honda this week.

The Clara native dislodged Sweden’s Alex Noren who joins Adrian Otaegui, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood on the bubble.

Lowry showed remarkable consistency last year which finally came to fruition with a big win at the BMW PGA in September but Waterford’s Power while not contending to win as often, has also shown great consistency of late.

Power has started 2023 with five straight top-25 finishes after ending 2022 with a win and finishes of 3rd and 5th. The Tooraneena man is without a missed cut since the Shriner’s Open in October.

Such consistency will give Luke Donald and Irish golf fans alike heart that Power can hang around the bubble throughout the year and maybe squeeze his way into an automatic place knowing he will be in all the majors, elevated PGA Tour events and World Golf Championships this year.

McIlroy continues to lead the way in the qualification race with World number one Jon Rahm in second place after his fifth win in eight starts.

Rahm made his Ryder Cup bow in 2018 and his fellow rookie from that year Thorbjorn Olesen has now put his name in the ring after his second win in 9 months at the Thailand Classic.

The Dane has risen to 12th on the European Points List and has definitely emerged as a contender now that Thomas Pieters has seemingly sacrificed a second Ryder Cup appearance for LIV Golf.

Europe have a cluster of players who are all capable of being top-40 players on their day with the likes of Rafa Cabrera Bello, Robert MacIntyre, Sepp Straka, Francesco Molinari, Olesen and Power, to be fair, all of a similar level of talent. Pieters would have been arguably the standout player in that crop but now there is an opportunity for those players to move into Donald’s rearview mirror.

Olesen was impressive on debut in Paris five years ago going 1-1 from his two matches including a convincing 5&4 win over Jordan Spieth.

An aggressive player who has now converted six of his last seven 54-hole leads, the seven-time DP World Tour winner has a boisterous style of golf that would be suited to match play.

As it stands Rory McIlroy (1,856.50 points) Rahm (1,850.00 points), and Victor Perez (1,252.49 points) would claim the three automatic qualifying spots on the European Points List, with Hovland (65.73 points), Power (51.45 points) and Lowry (51.40 points) currently sitting in the top three positions on the World Points List.

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