Rory McIlroy’s ‘drunken lunch’ with Shane Lowry leads to new Zurich team

Rory McIlroy and shane lowry at the 2023 ryder cup

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will partner at the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which will be McIlroy's debut in the team event.

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Rory McIlroy has a new event on his schedule for 2024, and Shane Lowry will join him. The European Ryder Cup stalwarts will compete as teammates in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., on April 25-28.

And apparently, it all started with a boozy lunch.

“I asked him [to play],” McIlroy told on Monday. “You know it was actually, we had this really drunken lunch after the Ryder Cup last year, and I said after, ‘You wanna play the Zurich together?’ And we were like, yeah, let’s do it.”

This will be McIlroy’s debut at the Zurich Classic, which has been a two-person team event since 2017. Lowry has played in the Zurich four times. He’s missed the cut twice (once when it was individual stroke play) and has finished T28 and 13th. Lowry played with Padraig Harrington, who is now on the PGA Tour Champions, in 2018 and 2019, and he was with Ian Poulter, who is now at LIV Golf, in 2022.

“So I was like, ‘Yeah, if you are looking to play?'” McIlroy said. “And I’ve never played before, so I’m looking forward to it.”

By the way, if a “drunken lunch” with McIlroy and Lowry sounds familiar, you might have read about that already (assuming this is the same one). It was included in a lengthy interview with Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent, who sat down with the Irish stars after Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup win.

According to the Kimmage piece, shortly after they returned to the U.S., McIlroy stopped over to Lowry’s house for lunch, which included a bottle of wine. Eventually, they had other guests: Luke Donald and (wait for it) Michael Jordan.

“Rory, Luke and MJ sitting around talking about the Ryder Cup,” Lowry told Kimmage. [Laughs.] “… Not really how I envisioned the celebrations.”

Was that the same lunch McIlroy was referring to? If so, we’ll call that one productive business luncheon: dining with the GOAT and a Zurich Classic partnership.

McIlroy’s presence is a big get for the New Orleans tournament.

With its new format, the Zurich has had a combination of big-name teams and some more unique duos. Anyone who is qualified can pick their partner, even if they aren’t qualified themselves (just as long as they are PGA Tour members or get a sponsor’s exemption). Pals Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay have been one of the more star-studded pairings in past years (they won two years ago), and in 2022, Bill Haas asked his dad, 68-year-old Jay Haas, to partner with him. They tied for 36th.

Last year, John Daly and David Duval teamed up as sponsor’s exemptions and missed the cut, and brothers Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick contended but ultimately tied for 19th. Nick Hardy and Davis Riley are the defending champions.

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