With fewer than 200 days to go until the start of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, the excitement is beginning to grow for one of golf’s most prestigious events.
Many of the game’s greats – Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer, to name but a few – have won the World Cup for their countries, and from Nov 24- 27, 56 players from 28 nations will descend on Mission Hills in Hainan to compete for $7.5 million in prize money.
It will be the first time the Omega Mission Hills World Cup will be held in Hainan, which is rapidly becoming a golfing hot spot thanks to its world-class courses.
Two years ago, brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari took Italy to a maiden victory in the competition, which now takes place every other year instead of annually, heightening the sense of anticipation and excitement.
The pair carded a four-under 68 in the final round foursomes to finish at 29 under, one shot ahead of the Irish duo of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson.
The victory capped a stunning season for Edoardo, who finished top of the Challenge Tour rankings with three wins and had record earnings, and for both players the World Cup win proved to be the catalyst for even greater achievements in 2010.
Between them they won three European Tour titles – Francesco at the WGC-HSBC Champions and Edoardo at the Barclays Scottish Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles – and in October they helped Europe to Ryder Cup glory over the United States.
Recalling the victory at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, Franceso said: "Winning the World Cup was great for Edoardo and me and fantastic for Italy.
"We were playing against some of the best golfers in the world which makes winning even better. It was a very tough final day, right up until the end, so to see it out and end up with the trophy was extremely satisfying and gives us great pride.
"I holed two big putts on the 12th and 13th holes for birdies which were probably the key moments, and from there we just had to hold on. Of course, it was a pleasure to play alongside my brother and win a title like that for our country.
"The World Cup is a huge event in golf and I very much hope I can be part of it again this year to defend the title. Italian golf is enjoying a good spell at the moment with me, Edoardo and Matteo Manassero all playing well. Whoever gets the chance to go to China in November will be doing their best to make sure the trophy stays in Italian hands."
Edoardo said: "It was just great to be part of such a fantastic tournament which has so much history and has been won by so many great names. To add our names to that list of champions is a big honor.
"We played very well and I hope I am able to qualify for this year’s competition and give everything to successfully defend the title. That would be very special."
Eighteen of the 28 participating countries will be confirmed at the end of July, when the world’s leading 18 players must confirm their entry. Nine more nations will qualify via regional qualifiers in Asia, Europe and South America, with the top three from each qualifying for the event. As the host nation, China qualifies automatically for the World Cup.
SOURCE: China Daily
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