MAJOR CHAMPIONS HEADING TO CHINA FOR OMEGA MISSION HILLS WORLD CUP
August 2: US Open Champion Rory McIlroy and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel have confirmed their participation in this year’s OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup, which also sees Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari defend their title.
The event moves to the new Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island from November 24-27, and Irishman McIlroy and South African Schwartzel, ranked fifth and tenth respectively on the Official World Golf Ranking, are excited at the prospect of trying to lower the Italian colours in China.
McIlroy has selected close friend and World Number 12 Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open Champion, as his partner to try and go one better after the pair came up short one stroke behind the Molinaris in 2009.
Meanwhile, friendship was the factor behind Schwartzel, who won his first Major at Augusta National in April, selecting last year’s Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen as his partner in the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup, which has now become a biennial event on the world golfing calendar.
Eighteen exempt nations out of the 28 participating at Hainan Island have confirmed their entry, with their partners to be confirmed by August 22. Nine more nations will qualify via the Regional Qualifiers in Asia, Europe and South America, with the top three from each gaining exemption. As the host nation, China qualifies automatically for the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup to complete the field.
Francesco Molinari, the highest ranked Italian at Number 23 in the world, could have selected Matteo Manassero (30th) as his partner, but opted for brother Edoardo (43rd) for Italy’s challenge to retain their crown on Hainan Island.
Another reigning Major Champion, World Number Three Martin Kaymer, will represent Germany hoping to emulate his country’s victory in Barbados in 2006 when Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem triumphed.
England’s Ian Poulter and America’s Matt Kuchar have also confirmed their intention to chase World Cup glory, and both will select their partners at a later date.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who partnered Henrik Stenson to victory at the original Mission Hills Resort in 2008 and finished joint runners-up with Ireland in 2009, is a confirmed participant once again, as are Alvaro Quiros of Spain, Scotland’s Martin Laird, Anders Hansen of Denmark – who has selected Thomas Björn as his partner – Raphaël Jacquelin of France, Brendan Jones and Richard Green (Australia), Nicolas Colsaerts and Jerome Theunis (Belgium), Camilo Villegas and his brother Manuel (Colombia) and Jamie Donaldson and Rhys Davies (Wales).
McIlroy 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.”
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 at Hainan Island.”
Masters Champion Schwartzel named Oosthuizen as his partner, and said: “Louis and I always said that whichever one of us was higher in the World Ranking at the cut-off would select the other. We played a lot together as youngsters and I always looked up to Louis, so it’s a great opportunity for us to represent our country at Mission Hills Resort and try to win the World Cup for South Africa.”
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