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McIlroy and Lowry keep pace in Louisiana as Rahm and Hatton enjoy Ryder Cup lifeline – News – Irish Golf Desk


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Rory McIlroy knows a team is stronger when it plays to its strengths and it worked out of him on and off the course in the space of 24 hours.

As DP World Tour Chief Executive Guy Kinnings confirmed LIV Golf’s Jon Rahm will remain eligible for Bethpage without the need for a rules change, the Co Down man’s power and Shane Lowry’s phenomenal short game made up for their respective deficiencies in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Despite some unforced errors with wedges for McIlroy and a brace of short missed putts by Lowry, they carded a two-under 70 in the day two foursomes to share the early halfway lead with David Lipsky and Aaron Rai on 13-under-par.

Lowry’s shoulders started to slump when he missed inside three feet for a birdie four at the 18th, missed a four footer at the par-five second and bunkered his tee shot at the short third, leading to a bogey.

But with McIlroy encouraging him to keep his chin up, the Offaly man made a 12-footer for par at the fourth, chipped close at the seventh, and hit a bunker shot tight at the short par-four eighth to set up back-to-back birdies that left them right in the hunt at TPC Louisiana.

“I started to get a little bit into myself, but to roll that one in was nice,” Lowry said of the fourth. “And to play the last few holes the way we did was really nice too.

“I think (there’s) a bit of a lesson there for myself to kind of keep going and just keep trying and keep plugging away. We did that today, and I’m pretty happy how

we finished.”

McIlroy said he was “just trying to keep (Lowry) as positive as possible and just remind him that I’m here and I’m here to back him up in any way that I can.”

He was also backing Rahm when he called for a Ryder Cup qualifying rules change after the Spaniard jumped to LIV Golf.

But no change is needed, according to Kinnings, who was unsure himself of the precise rule until he enquired.

“It is wrong to think Jon Rahm has written himself out of the Ryder Cup,” Kinnings said. “People instantly thought we would have to change the rules. But actually, we don’t. If Jon follows the procedures in place, there is no reason why he would not be eligible for the 2025 Ryder Cup.”

Ryder Cup stars Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton must serve a suspension and an undisclosed fine for each breach of the rules if they play a LIV Golf event without an official release from the DP World Tour.

But under the current rules, which are unlikely to be changed for the 2025 matches, they can serve a suspension in subsequent DP World Tour events, even if they had no intention of entering them.

“Jon will likely have to serve a suspension,” Kinnings added. “And if he does that, he will be eligible to play in the next Ryder Cup.

“He doesn’t actually have to enter a subsequent DP World Tour event to serve that suspension. He would be suspended from an event even if he hadn’t entered.

“To be eligible for the Ryder Cup, a player must play in a minimum of four DP World Tour events. Any player will still be able to do that, even if he serves any and all suspensions levied.

“There are enough weeks in the year to do that. That’s not a loophole. Those are the rules we have always had.”

It may be too soon for Tom McKibbin to start thinking about the Ryder Cup but the Holywood star continues to shine, carding a six-under 64 to go into the weekend tied for eighth on seven under in the ISPS Handa Championship in Japan, just three shots behind Sam Bairstow, Yannik Paul, Sebastian Söderberg and Japan’s Taihei Sato at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course.

On the Challenge Tour, Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy shot a four-under 68 to sit just four shots off the lead in the UAE Challenge Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.

He’s tied for fifth behind leader Joshua Berry on seven under with Conor Purcell seven adrift in 21st after a 71 and Gary Hurley back on two under after a 70.

At the LET’s Investec SA Women’s Open, Olivia Mehaffey came home in five-under 31 to make the cut with a shot to spare at Erinvale.

She was eight-over for the tournament through 27 holes, four shots outside the eventual cut mark ,  but made an eagle two at the 10th and birdies at the 11th, 16th and 18th to shoot a four-under 68 and make it on three-over.

She’s tied for 49th, 11 strokes behind Belgian pacesetter Manon De Roey, but Lauren Walsh missed the weekend on 10-over after a second-round 76.

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