Shane Lowry rewarded European captain Padraig Harrington’s faith on Saturday with a sensational performance alongside Tyrrell Hatton in a four-balls win over Tony Finau and Harris English.
With Europe struggling, Ryder Cup newcomer Lowry came through, draining an 11-foot par putt to tie the 18th hole and preserve a 1-up victory.
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Although Europe would have to mount the biggest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history to retain the trophy they won in France, pumped up Irishman Lowry was ready to take them on.
“I read a quote last night, I was looking at stuff on my phone, and for some reason it popped up, and it was like if you’ve got a 1% chance, you have to have 100% faith,” Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, said. “And I just think that we really need to live by that tonight and tomorrow and go out and give it our best.”
Against Finau and English — who beat Lowry and Rory McIlroy in four-balls on Friday — Lowry opened with three straight birdies, his 26-foot birdie at the par-3 third putting the Europeans 1-up.
After he rolled in a 19-foot putt for his fifth birdie of the day at the 10th — which preserved the 1-up lead — Lowry let loose with a fist-shaking roar.
Hatton had his struggles but contributed a birdie at the par-4 11th that pushed the lead to 2-up, but Finau trimmed the deficit with a birdie to win the 13th.
At the tough par-four 18th Lowry was in trouble off the tee and had to layup, putting himself 11 feet from the pin with his third shot.
Hatton, meanwhile was in a greenside bunker and his shot out got hung up in the rough, putting the pressure on Lowry to match English’s par to hang onto the full point.
“I really did enjoy it,” Lowry said. “It’s so tense out there, trying hard for your teammates. We did have a great day. I felt like it was a great opportunity to do something. When you’re in a great frame of mind, that’s the stuff you think about when you’re over putts like that.”
Lowry, 34, said to start the week that he felt like he “belonged” at Whistling Straits after fellow Irishman Harrington made him one of his three captain’s picks, which left former world number one Justin Rose out in the cold.
Lowry had held the last automatic berth going into the final qualifying event but was overtaken on the list by Bern Wiesberger at the PGA Championship at Wentworth.
But he hasn’t won a tournament since his Open triumph at Royal Portrush, and his best result in 2021 is a tie for fourth at the US PGA Championship.
With the pressure piling up on Europe, who were down 9-3 after the Saturday morning foursomes saw them held to 3-1 for a third straight session, Lowry came out firing.
“Shane played amazing today,” Hatton said. “Got us going. Kept us in it for large periods of the match.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Shane today to hole that putt, such an important point.”