US Open champion Rory McIlroy and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel have confirmed their participation in this year’s Omega Mission Hills World Cup, which will also see Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari defend their title.

The team event moves to the new Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island from Nov 24-27, and Irishman McIlroy and South African Schwartzel, ranked fifth and 10th respectively in the world rankings, are excited at the prospect of trying to lower the Italians colors in China.

McIlroy has selected close friend and world No 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 also 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 World Cup, which has now become a biennial event on the golfing calendar.

Eighteen exempt teams out of the 28 participating at Hainan Island have confirmed their entries, with their partners to be confirmed by Aug 22. Nine more nations and regions will qualify via 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 event.

Francesco Molinari, the highest ranked Italian in the world at No 23, could have selected Matteo Manassero (30th) as his partner, but opted for brother Edoardo (43rd) for Italy’s bid to retain its crown on Hainan Island.

Another reigning major champion, world No 3 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 runner-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 Bjorn as his partner – Raphael 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 said: "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 said: "Louis and I always said that whichever one of us was higher in the world rankings 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 the Mission Hills resort and try to win the World Cup for South Africa."

 
SOURCE: China Daily
 
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