Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Major Winners on World Cup Mission

The partnership between Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell partnership will be put to the test once again this week at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup in China.

Two years ago the pair were denied glory by the Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari.

This time around, the Irish duo have been installed as favourites to go one better and win the title.

McIlroy, who at number two in the world is the highest ranked player in the field said: “Graeme and I really enjoyed the experience at Mission Hills two years ago, when we came close to winning the title.

“We only missed out by a shot, and are looking forward to forming the Irish team again and trying to go one better this time.”

The 22-year-old reigning US Open champion hasn’t played competitively since finishing fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai two weeks ago.

In contrast, McDowell will be making his fifth competitive start in a row at the high class Mission Hills Resort, Hainan Island.

McDowell added: “I was delighted when Rory selected me to be his partner again.

“There is nothing quite like representing Europe in The Ryder Cup or Ireland in the World Cup – It’s a real buzz.

“We worked well as a partnership two years ago, and we can’t wait to try to claim the title.”

The 32-year-old finished a lowly 38th in his latest outing at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan on Sunday, an event reduced to 54-holes by heavy rain.

“Disappointing week on the greens this week,” McDowell tweeted.

“Struggled with my speed. Ball striking and short game are right there.

“Bring on the World Cup.”

Rory and Graeme are close friends off the course and following McIlroy’s much publicised switch from ISM, they are now part of the same management team at Horizon.

On-course the two Ulster golfers have developed into a highly effective partnership.

In 2009 they played together at the Seve Trophy winning three points out of four as GB&I crushed Europe.

And then last year they came together again in the cauldron of the Ryder Cup to win one and half points out of three.

They are a proven combination but they will have to see off some other high quality pairings if they are to become the first Irish team to win since Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley in 1997.

The Molinari brothers are back to defend their title and they will be joined in the 28 team field by Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

The United States will be represented by Matt Kuchar and his partner Gary Woodland.

Both men recognise the honour and privilege of representing the Stars and Stripes.

Kuchar, who was part of the Presidents Cup side that beat the International team in Australia on Sunday said:. “It’s exciting to think about the World Cup and representing the United States.

Woodland said: “Matt is a very consistent player, always in play.

“Hopefully it pans out pretty well.

“I have a little length to add to it, so hopefully I can drive it out there.

“He can knock it close and we both get our putters going and we can make a lot of birdies.”

“That is what we are looking for and hopefully we can play well and get the job done.

“Our form at the minute is quite good and hopefullyb that will continue in this event.”

England’s Ian Poulter has named his close friend Justin Rose to fly the flag for England.

This comes four years after they finished fourth on their only appearance as a double act at the original Mission Hills Resort in Shenzen.