Shane Lowry is comfortably in position to play in this year's Ryder Cup as it stands, but a lot can change between now and the tournament teeing off in September.
The Offaly man will take part in this weekend's inaugural Hero Cup, designed to give some of those players vying for a place on Team Europe a chance to fight their way onto Luke Donald's team for the Ryder Cup in Rome later this year.
Lowry, one of the few highlights of a poor European performance at the 2021 tournament, understands the danger of complacency in fighting for his own place in the team. Speaking to the media ahead of day one at the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi, he expressed his hopes of making it onto Team Europe in September, and also paid tribute to two of the continent's biggest stars.
Shane Lowry says Rory McIlroy is best in the world
As far as "locks" go on the European 12 to take to the course in Rome in September, there are three men who stand out.
Shane Lowry is one, with the Irishman currently sitting in third on the European rankings ahead of this year's tournament. The top three on the European points list, as well as the top three on the world points list, will qualify for the team automatically. Captain Luke Donald will then have six captain's picks at his disposal, in a change from previous tournaments.
Despite his excellent form over the past few years, and his current strong position, the chance of having to earn a captain's pick is up in the air. Lowry is taking no chances - and understands the importance of performing well at this weekend's Hero Cup:
Obviously, I want to be a part of Luke’s team in Rome, and I feel like if this gives me any little bit of an edge in Rome, if I’m there, I need to be playing here.
The other two "locks" as it stands would be fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy, and Spaniard Jon Rahm. The pair sit in the top two spots on both rankings lists as it stands, and it would take a catastrophe for either man not to be involved in Italy.
Speaking ahead of the Hero Cup - at which neither McIlroy nor Rahm will play - Lowry praised his two prospective teammates. He is feeling good about Europe's chances with McIlroy and Rahm in tow, but understands the other 10 players involved will have to raise their game if Europe are to reclaim the Ryder Cup.
The two best players in the world are European players at the minute, I feel, with Jon and Rory. It’s up to us, the rest of the lads, to get our game to a level where we are good enough to win the Ryder Cup at the end of the year.
Lowry's countryman Seamus Power is also involved in the Hero Cup, and is another man with a strong shout for a place on September's team.
Lowry will tee off at 7:05am Irish time on Friday morning, alongside Tommy Fleetwood in the first four-balls session against Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren.
Seamus Power will play alongside Robert MacIntyre in the last four-balls match, against Sepp Straka and Adrien Maronk.