The Irish threesome of Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and John Murphy will be flying the flag in Prague this week as the trio prepares to tee off at the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague.
The Czech Republic-based event is the penultimate qualifying tournament for Ryder Cup qualification, and Shane Lowry will be hoping to make sure of an automatic spot on the team.
Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have already secured their spots in Luke Donald’s team at the top of the European points list, with Norway’s Victor Hovland the first to qualify through the World Points list but a victory at the Czech Masters would go a long way to securing a spot on the plane alongside McIlroy, Rahm and Hovland, with the potential to strengthen that position even further at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland next week.
However, in order to put himself in a position to catch Robert MacIntyre – the man currently in the final automatic qualification spot on the European Points list – the Lowry will have to turn his mind to the challenge ahead in Prague.
The Open Championship aside, Lowry has performed to his usual high standards in his most recent outings, recording four top-20 finishes with three of these finishes in the major competitions.
Padraig Harrington has also performed solidly in his most recent outings, particularly on the seniors circuit – but he still feels (and rightly so) the he can mix it on the main Tour as he bids to make his seventh Ryder Cup squad as a playing participant.
Finishing as runner-up after a playoff against Alex Cejka in the Senior Open at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Bridgend, Harrington may be hitting form at the right time for an unlikely Ryder Cup call-up from Luke Donald and his team of vice-captains.
John Murphy will not be in contention for a Ryder Cup selection come the end of the weekend, but the Kinsale native will be looking to provide a more impressive showing than the bulk of his appearances this season. It hasn’t been an easy transition to the big leagues for Murphy but he has the game and the ability to stick in there and grind out some results.
Murphy gets the Irish interests underway from the 10th tee at 9:30 a.m. with Japanese golfer Aguri Iwasaki and Dane Kristian Krogh Johannessen making up the three ball.
Lowry begins his opening round on the first tee at 1:10 p.m. alongside Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen and Poland’s Adrian Meronk, with a strong opening round crucial in such a stacked competition.
Harrington is in the next group out at the first tee just ten minutes later alongside playing partners Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and Czech native Jiri Zuska.
The action gets underway with the first group teeing off at 7:30 a.m.