[PHOTO: Christian Petersen]

Rory McIlroy will make his Zurich Classic debut this week, and no one should feel more honoured by the four-time major champion’s presence than his teammate Shane Lowry. On the eve of the tournament, the tandem explained how their partnership came together on the heels of a victorious Ryder Cup – and a few beverages.

“I remember Rory talked about – the Wednesday after Ryder Cup we had a nice few drinks together,” Lowry said of the partnership that has the second-best odds to win this week behind only the team of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay. “We talked about it that day, and then he sent me a text around Christmas time, and it was a nice little Christmas present for me to get. Yeah, happy to be here with him.”

Lowry added that he waited for McIlroy to bring it up first. Smart move. Because, apparently, others have been unsuccessfully asking Rory for years since the PGA Tour’s annual stop in New Orleans became a team event in 2017. Including one fellow major winner in particular. Check out this exchange.

Q. Rory, just curious, had you been close to coming here before or playing in this tournament before?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, a few people have asked me over the years. Bubba Watson hounded me for years to come play this with him and I politely declined every time, not because I don’t like…

SHANE LOWRY: Rory is probably like No.1 on people’s lists to come play here with. When you’re out there playing with him, he’s…

RORY McILROY: But no, it was never part of – I guess it never lined up with my schedule and just wasn’t… This is my fourth week in a row, and it’s not as if I haven’t played four weeks in a row before, but for a fourth tournament in a row, something like this that is a little more relaxed, not as much pressure, I thought it would be a good thing to do.

Poor Bubba. And poor golf fans. Imagine two of the greatest drivers of the golf ball in history partnering up? That would have been a fun team to watch.

Like McIlroy points out, it was nothing against Watson, just more it didn’t work out with his schedule. Although this year, McIlroy is finally playing in the tournament despite it being his fourth week of playing in a row.

“Why am I excited that he picked me? He obviously thinks I’m good enough to be a teammate and come out here and compete with,” Lowry said.

Nicely done, Shane. Sometimes you just have to play it cool.