Lowry skipping French Open to defend WGC title

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Shane Lowry will defend his title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational later this month, a decision that means the Irishman will miss out on a potential bounty of Ryder Cup points at the Open de France.

Lowry earned his first PGA Tour victory last year at Firestone Country Club, winning by two shots over Bubba Watson. The title brought with it a three-year PGA Tour membership, but it also left Lowry with a difficult decision for one of the most divisive weeks of the summer schedule.

The European Tour did not appreciate that the PGA Tour scheduled its WGC event during the same week as the Open de France, which will be celebrating its centennial anniversary this summer. As a result, the circuit pulled its sanctioning of the event in Akron, Ohio, meaning that European players won't receive any Ryder Cup points for their performance in the no-cut event.

Instead, the European Tour is offering double Ryder Cup points to those teeing it up at Le Golf National outside Paris, where the field is already slated to include the likes of Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

It's an important incentive for Lowry, who has never played in a Ryder Cup before and currently sits No. 22 on the European Points list and No. 24 on the World Points list. But after weighing his options, he has decided to return to Firestone June 30-July 3 before starts at the Scottish Open and Open Championship.

"I've known for a while in my own mind that I wanted to defend in Akron," Lowry wrote in an Irish Times blog update. "Any players I've spoken to have said I'm right, even though it won't count on the European Tour this season and doesn't have any Ryder Cup points."

Lowry missed the cut by two shots at the BMW PGA Championship last month after a second-round 78 that included a five-putt. He admitted that had things gone better at the circuit's flagship event, he may have opted for France instead.

"If I'd had a good Wentworth and made progress up the Ryder Cup qualifying table, I might have felt differently," he said.