Rory McIlroy Adds New Event After ‘Drunken Lunch’ With Ryder Cup Teammate

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

Getty Rory McIlroy during the final round of the 2024 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

For the first time in his career, Rory McIlroy will tee it up at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the only team event on the PGA Tour schedule, which will be contested from April 25-28 at TPC Louisiana.

McIlroy, who will soon take his 10th attempt at becoming the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam at The Masters, will team with Shane Lowry at the Zurich. As the world’s second-ranked player told on March 25, the idea for the partnership was hatched several months ago during what he called a “drunken lunch” following the Ryder Cup in Rome, where the duo helped Team Europe to a 16.5-11.5 victory over Team USA.

“I asked him [to play],” McIlroy said. “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.

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

How the Zurich Classic of New Orleans Works

It’s not as if Rory McIlroy has had many chances to play this event, at least in its current form. While the Zurich Classic was first played in 1938 and has been an annual stop on the PGA Tour since 1958, it only became a team competition in 2017.

For those unfamiliar with the format, the field consists of 80 two-man teams playing alternating rounds of Four-ball (best ball) and Foursomes (alternate shot). The first and third rounds are played using Four-ball rules, while the second and fourth rounds are contested under Foursomes rules.

The top 33 teams and ties after 36 holes make the cut. In addition to prize money, the winners receive 500 FedEx Cup points and two-year exemptions on the PGA Tour, but no world ranking points are awarded.

As mentioned, McIlroy has never participated in the Zurich Classic, but Lowry has played in the team event three times. He twice partnered with Padraig Harrington, tying for 28th in 2018 and missing the cut in 2019. In 2022, Lowry played alongside Ian Poulter, who’s now with LIV Golf, and finished in solo 13th.

Rory McIlroy Will Soon Play 4 Weeks in a Row

While McIlroy kicked off his 2024 season with a pair of top-two finishes on the DP World Tour, tying for second at the Dubai Invitational and winning the Dubai Desert Classic, he’s cracked the top 20 just once in five PGA Tour starts.

After tying for 66th at Pebble Beach, he tied for 21st at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. He then played three straight weeks during the Florida Swing, tying for 21st at both the Cognizant Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational before tying for 19th at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

With the Zurich Classic added to his schedule, Rory has a busy stretch coming up, during which he’ll play four tournaments in four weeks.

He surprisingly committed to the Valero Texas Open, a tourney he’s only played twice in his career, which takes place the week before The Masters from April 4-7. Then there’s The Masters itself from April 11-14.

The following week, from April 18-21, the PGA Tour will hold its next Signature Event, the RBC Heritage, and Rory is expected in the field at Harbour Town. And then there’s the Zurich Classic.

It’s not that McIlroy has never played four weeks in a row in the past, but it certainly doesn’t happen often. But as he currently sits in 61st place in the FedEx Cup standings, perhaps Rory is just looking for some extra points.

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