Adrian Meronk was sitting next to his girlfriend on a train from Switzerland when Luke Donald’s name popped up on his caller ID. Meronk had been expecting the call; as one of the Ryder Cup hopefuls, he was told that he’d be phoned either way, with good news or bad.
Meronk, of course, was expecting the former. After all, he’d won three national opens in the past year and a half, had narrowly missed out on automatically qualifying for his first European Ryder Cup team and earlier this year won at Marco Simone, which later this month was hosting the matches. He’d just shot a closing 66 at the European Masters to post another top-15 finish in a season full of them. He was, he said, in “quite a good mood.”
Then Donald delivered 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 Wednesday ahead of the Irish Open, where he is the defending champion. “I was expecting to have a decent chance to be on the team, but it was a quite shocking call, yeah.”
When asked if Donald 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’m not 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, particularly among his peers who thought he warranted a pick. And now, he said, he’s trying to use the snub as fuel, as motivation to cap off the best year of his career that has seen him threaten the top 50 in the world ranking.
Because of 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 circuit cost him opportunities to accrue points toward Ryder Cup qualification. Robert MacIntyre played almost exclusively on the European tour this season, and he secured the third and final automatic spots via the European points list (by 183 points over Meronk).
“To be honest, I don’t regret that,” Meronk said of his decision to play more PGA Tour events. “I’m quite happy with the schedule that I did this year. I wanted to grow my game and I wanted to get comfortable playing in the U.S., and I think those starts that I did helped me a lot going forward.”
That said, come 2025, Meronk said he will likely focus more on counting European tour events, to try and earn automatic qualification, instead of relying on the captain for a wildcard pick.
“Obviously, it’s a hard one to swallow,” Meronk said. “I thought I’ve done enough to be on the team, but it is what it is. I wish them good luck, and I will just focus on my game and move forward.”
With Meronk getting snubbed, there has been renewed focus on the recent play of Shane Lowry, the 2019 Open champion who doesn’t have a top-10 finish worldwide since February. Lowry still garnered a pick from Donald, 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 side.
“My form probably has not been the greatest, 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.”
Donald 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 in many big occasions – 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 on just knowing that they have been there, and you know that they have been in those situations. Shane certainly fits into that category.”
Lowry said that he believes that Donald has selected the “best 12 players.”
But what of the observers who believe that Meronk should be included among the best 12?
“Adrian has had a great year, and obviously he’s unfortunate to miss out, but somebody has 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 that somebody else is better for this team that he was.”