Beyond jubilant Shane Lowry, the next happiest golfer after an extraordinary BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth has to be European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.
Lowry, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm were the top three at Wentworth in a thrilling first qualifying event for next year’s match in Rome. They are undoubtedly among the top names on Donald’s wish list in his quest to win back the trophy.
Lowry showed his passion for the game against the United States on his Whistling Straits debut last year and despite Europe losing 19-9, the 2019 Open winner described his time in Wisconsin as “the week of my life”.
The 35-year-old Irishman is determined to make Donald’s team 12 months from now and has racked up maximum points at the earliest opportunity in what will no doubt prove a lengthy qualifying process.
McIlroy and Rahm are the European superstars, around which the line-up will be shaped. Lowry also aspires to be a key player and the 8,000 DP World Tour points he has earned feel just as valuable as his check for £1.16m.
“There is no doubt that I want to be at the forefront of this team,” the Clara native told BBC Sport. “I want to go to Rome and help the team win the Ryder Cup and it’s a good start for the qualification process.”
His win without bogey, in an event shortened to 54 holes after Friday’s play was canceled as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, was the due reward for what has been a great season.
Indeed, Lowry – back to No. 19 in the world – rates him better than his campaign three years ago when he clinched victory in Abu Dhabi before racing to that unforgettable Open triumph at Royal. portrush.
“I feel like it’s been one of the best seasons of my career,” Lowry said after picking up his first win since his epic win in Northern Ireland. It was a fourth-place finish in the top three, including a share of third at the April Masters.
“I’ve won twice and one of them was the Open in 2019, but in terms of consistency I feel like it’s been the best season of my career. The golf I’ve played this season trumps everything else and I feel like it’s the icing on the cake for the whole season.”
A vocal critic of the LIV Tour breakaway, Lowry was keen to overhaul Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood who climbed up the standings before the Irishman left.
“Yes, it’s a win for me, my family and my team, but I feel like it’s a win for the European Tour and golf on the European Tour,” Lowry smiled.
“And it’s good that one of us managed to win. There were a few guys doing a charge before I came out and I was really motivated to come out and top that.”
His comments reflect an undeniable advantage that is prevalent on tour right now. There is an ongoing resentment of LIV players being able to take places with tour faithful at events such as last week’s tournament on the West Course.
This was further intensified by Sergio Garcia’s disgraceful withdrawal after a first-round 76. The Spanish LIV rookie is Europe’s leading Ryder Cup points scorer and was once the heart of golf on the continent.
It was the latest indiscretion in a long rap sheet that includes smashing tee markers, dropping a shoe into the crowd, spitting in a hole and scuffing the greens (ironically in Saudi Arabia) among several other petulant moments. .
Garcia started last week telling us he was at Wentworth because he wanted to support the European Tour. Long before the tournament ended, he was back in Texas, posing on social media in support of a college football team.
Garcia gave no reason to deviate from Surrey’s course. This after a heated argument in Munich earlier in the season when he told other pros that the DP World Tour is destined to become only the fifth-best tour in world golf.
His reputation among his peers and European golf fans hit an all time low.
But, it should be noted, the presence at Wentworth of 16 other golfers who have been on the Saudi-funded LIV Tour, oddly added to the spectacle.
Lowry wasn’t the only one motivated to deny a LIV win, but there was little, if any, discernible hostility from the galleries for ever-popular figures such as Westwood and Ian Poulter.
Reed conducted himself impeccably and his closing 63 reminded us that he remains a formidable player. The 2018 Masters winner, along with fellow American Talor Gooch, collected valuable points in the world rankings.
This is a currency not available on the cash loaded LIV configuration. Gooch, who was fourth, moved up to 35th in the world, Reed – who shared fifth place – remains 50th.
Normally, DP World Tour bosses would be happy to have both players at their tournaments. But the major circuits are determined to close the doors to players they see as rebels.
The LIV train is now rolling into Chicago for the fifth of eight invitational tournaments in its first year as the European tour heads to the Italian Open at club Marco Simone near Rome.
Now second in the world, McIlroy leads a field that also includes US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton, all members of Europe’s latest Ryder Cup squad.
The tournament is worth a relatively paltry €3m (£2.6m), roughly one-eighth of the aptly named Rich Harvest Farms’ financial loot for this week’s LIV tournament. But for the European faithful, for whom the Ryder Cup still means so much, it’s a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with the venue that will host the next match.
Europe’s bid to reclaim the prized trophy will be one of those increasingly rare occasions in golf where money is not a factor. It’s also great value for those who participate and watch fans around the world.
No wonder Lowry is thrilled to have got off to the perfect start in his quest to be a part of it.
Lowry’s first Ryder Cup scorer as Garcia hits new low