Ryder Cup star comes out swinging after being picked over in-form rival

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Shane Lowry has come out swinging ahead of the Ryder Cup after European captain Luke Donald’s wildcard selections came in for criticism. Former Open champion Lowry was not an automatic qualifier for the European team but received one of Donald’s six captain’s picks that make up the team of 12 who will attempt to regain the trophy from the United States in Rome later this month.

Lowry finished joint third at last weekend’s Irish Open to record his first top-10 finish since February. Poland’s Adrian Meronk was a surprise omission from the European team, despite winning three events this year including the Italian Open in May, which was staged on the Marco Simone course where the Ryder Cup will be contested.

But the Irish world No. 32, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits two years ago, was in an unapologetic mood ahead of his defence of the BMW PGA Championship this week.

He told BBC Sport: “I know I deserve to be there. The people who knew what they were talking about know I deserve my place, so anyone else doesn’t really matter.”

Lowry finished 11th on the European points list and eighth on the world points list but has been backed by Donald to shine in Italy.

Former world No. 1 Donald told Sky Sports: “We know he [Lowry] is a big time player. He won an Open championship, WGCs, won at Wentworth, the list goes on. He turns up in those moments. There is nothing quite like a Ryder Cup, it’s one of the biggest moments. He is great in the team room as well.”

The pressure is on the European team to deliver a strong performance on home turf after they suffered the humiliation of a 19-9 landslide defeat in America last time out.

But in Rory McIlory, Jon Rahm and Victor Hovland, Donald’s side contains three of the top four-ranked players in the world. That trio was joined in automatic qualification by Tyrrell Hatton, debutant Robert McIntyre and Matt Fitzpatrick.

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Donald’s other wildcard choices included big names such as Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose as well as Lowry. But he has also selected three rookies in the form of this year’s Open runner-up Sepp Strakka, Nicolai Hojgaard and rising star Ludvig Aberg, who only turned professional in May but has already won a DP World Tour title.

The 12 players visited the Marco Simone course last weekend, with Lowry calling it an “important” team-building session.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “I had a great time. I don’t really know Ludvig, Nicolai or Sepp – I know them to say hello to – so even hanging out for half an hour can make a big difference because the week of the Ryder Cup is a bit manic.”

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