NOTHERN IRELAND’S Graeme McDowell is the latest international star to confirm for the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne.
McDowell wants to be Ireland’s first winner since 1997 when he tees up in the 57th edition of the event, to be held at the iconic sandbelt course from November 21-24.
The current World Number 11 came agonisingly close to winning the cup in 2009, when he and playing partner Rory McIlroy finished joint runners-up with Sweden behind Italy’s victorious Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco.
Ireland’s last World Cup win came at Kiawah Island in 1997, when Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley joined forces to see off the Scottish pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Raymond Russell. The only other time Ireland triumphed at the World Cup of Golf was in 1958, through Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Connor.
McDowell has had a successful year on both sides of the Atlantic in 2013 and is confident of ending Ireland’s 16-year drought in Melbourne.
The 34 year old claimed his second US PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage in April and then returned to Europe in May and added to his collection of European Tour titles with victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria. A month later he won his ninth European Tour title with a four-shot victory in the Alstom Open de France.
“I’ve won three times this year so it has to go down as a great season, and it’d be great to round it off by playing well at the World Cup of Golf.” McDowell said this week. “I’ve played the World Cup a few times in the past, and always really enjoyed it. The format has changed slightly this year, but it still retains that team element.”
“I’ve been to Melbourne many times before and the courses there have some of the greatest greens and the best bunkers on the planet, so Royal Melbourne is going to be a great venue for the event. It’s definitely my kind of golf course. The wind blows quite hard and the course has a real linksy feel to it. It’s one of the finest links courses in the world, so I’m really looking forward to being part of the World Cup again.”
Current Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat from Thailand is now also a confirmed starter in Melbourrne along with his already announced compatriot Thongchai Jaidee. Other confirmed starters include American Matt Kuchar and Italian Matteo Manassero.
Australia’s ideal pairing for the cup of course would be Adam Scott and Jason Day.
The likelihood of that happening firmed this week with news Day will be in Sydney for the Australian Open the week after the cup. Scott has already confirmed to defend his Australian Masters title at Royal Melbourne the week before the cup and will also be at Royal Sydney the week afterwards.
Tickets for the ISPS HANDA World Cup are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.com.au.