“It’s what I’m playing for,” Lowry said. “I need to win this week or next week, or both. I need to win pretty much both to get on the team [automatically]. I really need to catch Darren’s eye with something.”
Lowry gave himself a chance to do just that with a second-round 65 at Sedgefield Country Club that moved him to 5 under for the tournament. The Irishman was 2 over through 12 holes of his opening round, but after his rally he heads into the weekend inside the top 20.
Lowry is currently 16th on the World Points list for Ryder Cup qualification, with only the top nine players on Aug. 28 earning automatic bids. It’s a steep climb, and it likely means he’ll need to receive one of Clarke’s three captain’s picks to make the squad at Hazeltine.
That seemed like a plausible scenario after Lowry’s runner-up at the U.S. Open, but his form has slowed since leaving Oakmont and Scotland’s Russell Knox has since added a victory at the Travelers Championship to vault past Lowry in the standings.
With veterans Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer also in the mix for a captain’s pick, Lowry realizes that the odds may be stacked against him – especially since five of the nine Europeans currently projected to qualify automatically will be Ryder Cup rookies.
“Everyone knows that Westwood and Kaymer are pretty close to a pick. Russell’s obviously had a great year. I almost won the U.S. Open. I know nearly and never don’t mean anything, but I was very good for 68 holes. I was there,” Lowry said. “I think when it comes down to a Ryder Cup pick, yeah there’s a lot of form involved, but it’s who they’d like to see out there in Sunday afternoon singles, and I don’t think I’d be a bad player to have out there.”
Lowry notably opted out of the French Open earlier this summer, where double Ryder Cup points were offered, in order to defend his title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he didn’t receive any points for his T-36 finish. The decision to do so, however, is one he stands by despite his current circumstances.
“Obviously if I’d have played France I might have gotten a few more points, but I had a bad score the first round at Bridgestone. If I had had a bad score the first round in France, I would have missed the cut,” he said. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I had to go back and defend. I mean, I think everyone understood that. That’s just the way it happened.”
Lowry is also jeopardizing his FedEx Cup future in order to make a late bid for Hazeltine. He’ll skip The Barclays next week in order to play in Denmark, and he entered this week at No. 90 meaning that he’s not guaranteed to remain inside the top 100 to qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship.
For Lowry, the choice of which cup to chase was an easy one.
“I’d rather be on the Ryder Cup than do well in the FedEx Cup. For a European player, the Ryder Cup is pretty much everything,” he said. “I would be bitterly disappointed if I wasn’t on the Ryder Cup team this year. I think I’m good enough. I think I can go out against any of the Americans in Sunday afternoon singles. We just have to see how the next two weeks pan out.”