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'major' impact Harrington backs Lowry to find groove and make Ryder Cup surge

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Shane Lowry. Photo: John Raoux

Shane Lowry. Photo: John Raoux

Shane Lowry. Photo: John Raoux

Skipper Pádraig Harrington has urged Shane Lowry to simply "let it happen" as he looks to hit top gear and clinch his Ryder Cup debut.

The Offaly man (33) showed signs he's close to his best when he finished eighth in The Players last week, clinching his first top-10 finish for seven months.

After missing out in 2016 and 2018, Lowry has made the Ryder Cup his top goal this year, and a win in this week's Honda Classic would catapult him right into the mix.

Harrington is aware the Clara man's putting has been off-colour, but having seen the quality in his long game, he expects the Open champion to hit form for the Majors.

"Shane has been playing probably the best golf I've ever seen him play of recent," Harrington said at PGA National, where he won the Honda Classic in 2005 and 2015. "He hasn't been putting very well.

"As I've said about a few players, I'm never unhappy to see a player playing well but not quite get the results at this time of the year because I know they're going to turn around.

"For Shane, I can see good form there, and when it does turn around, it's going to be at the appropriate time of the year. It's going to be coming into the majors and then following up into the Ryder Cup.

"You know, looking from the outside, you just tell Shane just to let it happen. It's obviously very easy to say that, not as easy to do as a player."

As world number 40, Lowry is one of just six top-50 players in action at PGA National in West Palm Beach behind Daniel Berger, defending champion Sungjae Im, the in-form Lee Westwood, Adam Scott and Joaquin Niemann.

Westwood (47) is close to an 11th Ryder Cup appearance following back-to-back runner-up finishes, and Harrington is pleased as it would give him the option to pick a veteran struggling to qualify.

"Obviously, Lee playing his way in frees up another spot for a pick," Harrington said. "Everything about Lee playing well is a bonus for me."

Westwood was jaded after playing 54-holes at a chilly Augusta National on Monday and Tuesday with his son Sam and Lowry and his coach, Neil Manchip.

"I will say it's as hard as I've seen Augusta play, even when it's been the week of the Masters," Westwood said. "It was playing long, and the greens were like rock."

How that will suit big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau remains to be seen, but while Harrington reckons an equipment rollback would make golf more sustainable, safer and faster, it would play into the Mad Scientist's hands.

"Bryson gains massively if they draw back the equipment," he said. "If you reduce Bryson by 10 per cent, say he's hitting it 350, and he's now hitting it 315, and you reduce a guy who's hitting it 300, and you reduce him to 270, Bryson is okay."

He added: "It is an incredible advantage to the long hitters if they tailback how far the ball goes. I saw it with Tiger Woods. In 1996 he destroyed everybody because he was a good player and was faster, and Rory did the same thing.

"Now we're seeing Bryson, he's obviously getting the limelight for it, and it's very impressive. But he should be screaming for a rollback because it would give him a big advantage."

On the European Tour, Gavin Moynihan makes his first appearance for three months when he joins Cormac Sharvin and Jonathan Caldwell in the Magical Kenya Open.

The Portrane talent will be looking to start 2021 on a positive note, having not made a cut since the Austrian Open last July.

Amateur Olivia Mehaffey makes her Symetra Tour debut in the Carlisle Arizona Women's Golf Classic at Longbow Golf Club, where she shot a 10-under 62 in to finish second in a collegiate event last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods says he is happy to be home after spending three weeks in hospital following a serious car crash in California last month.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, Woods said: "Happy to report that I am back home and continuing my recovery."

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