Pádraig Harrington insists Shane Lowry was an obvious pick for Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team and feels Europe’s top players are the best players in the world.
Lowry isn’t known as a serial winner but having won the 2019 Open Championship, BMW PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship and a Rolex Event in Abu Dhabi, Harrington feels his fellow countryman is a man for the big occasion and his imperious ball striking ability makes him a versatile option in both foursomes and four balls.
“There’s no doubt that Shane is a big-time player who likes the big occasions, the majors, and at the Ryder Cup he was very, very comfortable. Wasn’t like a rookie at all in the sense he just knows the bigger, pressure-filled occasions.
“It’s strange seeing some of (indiscernible) people who aren’t in the know saying maybe somebody else should have gotten picked, and they might have named Shane. I’m going, it’s not even close. Shane is, when it comes to if we were playing a small tournament maybe Shane wouldn’t be the right pick, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup, I definitely can trust in him.
“He is very good with the rest of the team. There’s no doubt about it. He can partner up. He can play foursomes and four-ball. In order to play foursomes and four-ball, you need to be a good ball striker, and that’s what Shane is.
“That versatility is very important for Luke, to have somebody who can play 12 sets. Sometimes you get stuck with a player, sometimes players can be one-dimensional, but Shane is going to fit in very nicely and be able to play whatever is required.”
Europe will bid to win back the Ryder Cup in Marco Simone, Rome at the end of the month and while Harrington admits his team were past their peak two years ago he is excited about the current form of Donald’s charges who boast the number two, three and four ranked players in the world.
“I think Europe is very strong this year. I believe we’re back to the ’80s, the ’70s where our top players are actually the best players in the world. So I think the team is very strong. I think they’re very much in form.
“We need a strong pool of players so that some of the very top players can be rested for the singles. I think that’s the most important thing is that all the players play well. We have the best players at the top for sure, but we need all of them to play well so the best players can sit out at least one match.”
The three-time major champion also admitted he felt for defending Horizon Irish Open champion Adrian Meronk after the towering Pole was controversially omitted from Donald’s six wildcard picks but that Swedish sensation Ludvig Aberg was a ‘simple pick’ after winning in Switzerland at the weekend.
“I feel for Adrian Meronk. I think he’s a class player and is going to be a great player for the future, but unfortunately a lot of times at the Ryder Cup, when you’re sitting in the hot seat the last month or two, the guys who are challenging — it’s like being a leader on the leaderboard; the guys coming behind free up a little bit, and Nicolai obviously did great over the last couple of tournaments in order to steal the limelight.
“It’s tough for Adrian. There always seems to be one spot at the end that’s — I really feel for him. Lovely player, lovely kid, and he will play Ryder Cups in the future and do well anyway. But it’s tough when you miss out.
“I know I missed out in ’97 ultimately by about 13,000 Euros. As I said, it’s interesting, I played with Seve all that summer. All summer I remember playing with him here and all the time, and I seemed to be drawing him, and at the end of it, he didn’t really want me on his team, but at the end of it he was very nice and said, you know what, you will have your time.
“I think Adrian will have his time, as well.
“I think Ludvig was a simple pick at the end. Like I don’t think it was in any question at the very end.
“I think two weeks prior, it would have been a big pick. It would have been a pick based on stats rather than necessary results, but his results have been fantastic the last two weeks, and that’s actually why you have a closing date. You’re trying to get current form into your team, and Ludvig has proved it. He’s hit the ground running.”