Adrian Meronk was sitting next to his girlfriend on a train from Switzerland when Luke Donald’s name appeared on his license plate. Meronk had been waiting for the call; as one of the Ryder Cup hopefuls, he was told he would be called either way, with good news or bad.
Meronk was of course expecting the former. After all, he had won three National Opens in the past year and a half, narrowly missed out on automatically qualifying for his first European Ryder Cup team and earlier this year beat Marco Simone, who later this month hosted for the matches. He had just shot 66 at the European Masters to post another top-15 finish in a season full of them. He said he was in “quite a good mood”.
Then Anders came with the news.
Someone had to be the odd man out, and this time it was the 30-year-old from Poland.
“To be honest, I was in shock,” Meronk told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the Irish Open, where he is the defending champion. “I expected to have a decent chance of being in the team, but it was a pretty shocking call, yes.”
When asked if Anders gave him a reason why he didn’t receive one of the six captain’s picks, Meronk said he wasn’t sure.
“When he said I wasn’t going, I kind of stopped listening,” Meronk said. “It was a big shock and I didn’t really focus after that.”
And so over the past 48 hours, Meronk said his emotions have been all over the place. He went from “shock to sadness to anger.” He was encouraged by the outpouring of support, especially among his peers who believed he warranted an election. And now, he said, he’s trying to use the snub as fuel, as motivation to finish off the best year of his career that has seen him threaten the top 50 in the world rankings.
Due to his rising stature in the game, Meronk chose to play seven PGA Tour events this season. That translated into three top-25s, but the time away from his home course cost him opportunities to accumulate points towards Ryder Cup qualification. Playing almost exclusively on the European Tour this season, Robert MacIntyre secured the third and final automatic places via the European points table (with 183 points over Meronk).
“To be honest, I don’t regret it,” Meronk said of his decision to play more PGA Tour events. “I’m pretty happy with the schedule I made this year. I wanted to develop my game and I wanted to get familiar with playing in the U.S. and I think them starting like I did helped me a lot moving forward .”
That said, in 2025, Meronk said he will likely focus more on counting European Tour events to try to gain automatic qualification, rather than relying on the captain for a wildcard pick.
“Obviously, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” Meronk said. “I thought I’ve done enough to be in the team, but it is what it is. I wish them the best of luck and I just want to focus on my game and move forward.”
Since Meronk has been dismissed, there has been renewed focus on the recent play of Shane Lowry, the 2019 Open champion who has not had a top-10 ranking in the world since February. Lowry still got a pick from Anders, who cited the Irishman’s fighting spirit and past experience. Lowry went 1-2 at the 2021 Ryder Cup, his lone appearance, in what was a historic loss for the European team.
“My form probably hasn’t been the best, but some of the bigger events I’ve played some of my best golf,” Lowry said. “There’s nothing bigger than the Ryder Cup and hopefully I can go to Rome and show people what I’m made of.”
Anders also defended his Lowry selection this week. “He’s very passionate. He loves those team atmospheres. He’s got good energy, good passion. And golf-wise he’s proven himself on a lot of big occasions – as a championship winner at Wentworth, he won the WGC. The biggest moments he’s been able to deliver.
“Part of the process of having six picks, some of them you have to pick, just knowing they’ve been there and you know they’ve been in those situations. Shane definitely fits into that category.”
Lowry said he believes Donald has selected the “best 12 players.”
But what about the observers who think Meronk should be in the top 12?
“Adrian has had a great year and obviously he’s unfortunate to miss out, but somebody’s got to miss out,” Lowry said. “I’m not going to sit here and disagree with Luke Donald. It was his decision at the end of the day if he thinks somebody else is better for this team than he was.”