World Cup of Golf: November 24-27
Originally called the Canada Cup, the World Cup of Golf dates right back to 1953 when a Canadian industrialist, John Jay Hopkins, founded the event to encourage international goodwill through the game of golf.
It’s had a few tweaks over the years and the event’s format was changed significantly last time when there was an emphasis on who won the individual event. This time we’re back to the old format described below.
A total of 28 countries will compete in two-man teams over four rounds of stroke-play. The first and third rounds will be played as four-balls and the second and fourth days will be foursomes, sometimes known as alternative shot. This is a return to the format used in 2011.
The highest ranked player from each country (choosing to compete) is given the decision as to who partners him.
Teams – In alphabetical order with world rankings
Australia – Adam Scott (7) Marc Leishman (53)
Austria – Bernd Wiesberger (46) Martin Wiegele (1315)
Belgium – Thomas Pieters (44) Nicolas Colsaerts (136)
Canada – David Hearn (142) Adam Hadwin (181)
China – Wu Ashun (171) Haotong Li (131)
Chinese Taipei – C.T. Pan Chan (215) Shih-chang (189)
Denmark – Soren Kjeldsen(50) Thorbjorn Olesen (70)
England – Chris Wood (37) Andy Sullivan (40)
France – Victor Dubuisson (93) Romain Langasque (188)
Germany – Alex Cejka (139) Stephan Jaeger (466)
India – SSP Chawrasia (220) Chikkarangappa S (321)
Ireland – Shane Lowry (42) Graeme McDowell (81)
Italy – Francesco Molinari (36) Matteo Manassero (344)
Japan – Hideki Matsuyama (6) Ryo Ishikawa (99)
Korea – Byeong Hun An (43) K.T. Kim (56)
Malaysia – Danny Chia (286) Nicholas Fung (320)
Netherlands – Joost Luiten (60) Darius van Driel (380)
New Zealand – Danny Lee (62) Ryan Fox (158)
Philippines – Miguel Tabuena (153) Angelo Que (453)
Portugal – Ricardo Gouveia (121) José-Filipe Lima (282)
Scotland – Russell Knox (18) Duncan Stewart (315)
South Africa – Jaco Van Zyl (94) George Coetzee (139)
Spain – Rafa Cabrera Bello (30) Jon Rahm (125)
Sweden – Alex Noren (9) David Lingmerth (65)
United States – Rickie Fowler (12) Jimmy Walker (19)
Thailand – Thongchai Jaidee (49) Kiradech Aphibarnrat (75)
Venezuela – Jhonattan Vegas (74) Julio Vegas (1872)
Wales – Bradley Dredge (89) Stuart Manley (873)
Kingston Heath Golf Club, Melbourne, Australia
Par 72, 7,059 yards
Originally formed as the Elsternwick Golf Club in 1909, Kingston Heath is an extremely well regarded, classic sandbelt course.
The original design of the course was credited to Dan Soutar before advice was sought from Augusta’s designer, Allister Mackenzie, who is said to have provided a suitable bunkering strategy during his visit to Australia in 1926.
It started life as a par 82 and was once the longest course in Australia but now measuring just a shade over 7,000 yards, with a par of 72, it’s not long by modern standards.
A fairly strong field is in attendance this week and a chance to play one of the world’s most renowned courses is one of the reasons so many top-drawer players are in the line-up.
Kingston Heath has hosted the Australian Open on seven occasions but not since 2000, when Aaron Baddeley was the last victorious amateur at the event. We do have some fairly recent form to ponder though as it was also the venue for the Australian Masters in 2009, when Tiger Woods won by two strokes, and again in 2012, when Adam Scott romped home by four.
Last Five Winners
2013 – Australia
2011 – USA
2009 – Italy
2008 – Sweden
2007 – Scotland
Previous World Cup Winners?
The United States have always taken this nomadic event very seriously and they’ve won it an incredible 24 times! Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer & Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Arnie, Jack and Lee Trevino, David Duval and Tiger Woods and Freddie Couple and Davis Love III (who won it four times in-a-row) are some of the more famous partnerships but even the lesser lights seem to perform well, Gary Woodland partnered Matt Kuchar to victory in China in the penultimate edition in 2011.
Behind the States, the Aussies and the South Africans have both won it five times and Spain have been successful four times.
I’ve looked at the three strokeplay tournaments played here this century and it’s suggests that Kingston Heath suits the front runners.
Baddeley was tied for fourth and just a stroke adrift after round one in 2000 and he remained inside the top-two places throughout the event thereafter. Tiger Woods won wire-to-wire here in 2009 and in 2012, Adam Scott was never outside the top-three before winning easily by four strokes ahead of Ian Poulter. And Poults finished four clear of the remainder – never venturing outside the front four places.
With benign conditions forecast, I fancy scoring will be pretty good and making up ground after a slow start will be extremely difficult. If you’re not keen on any of the teams before the off, surveying the situation after round one and concentrating on the leaders could be the way to go.
Jason Day has decided not to defend the title, plumping instead to rest up ahead of next year, but I’m not convinced that’s a huge negative for the Aussies.
Adam Scott’s form figures at Kingston Heath read an impressive 13-6-1 and although he has only decent recent form figures, nobody in the field knows the venue better and I fancy that will be a huge asset.
His partner, Marc Leishman, has played here once before, finishing down the field in 2009 but his recent form is OK and if his Presidents Cup record is anything to go by, he could relish the opportunity to represent his homeland. He’s played two singles matches in the Presidents Cup – beating Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth.
This will be the fifth time the World Cup has been staged Down Under and the Aussies have won it twice previously on home soil.
Nobody in the line-up is playing better golf than Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and he arrives in Melbourne with form figures reading 5-1-2-1-1. He partners Ryo Ishikawa and he’s been enjoying himself in his homeland of late with form figures in Japan reading 1-2-3-7 but his form on the PGA Tour isn’t so hot and in his last three starts he finished 10th in the CIMB Classic, missed the cut at the Shriners and finished 50th in Mexico.
Japan has already won the event twice before – once in Japan and once in Mexico – so they have a pedigree of sorts and the best player in the field on recent form and world rankings. The big negative is that neither player has played the unique venue before.
Rickie Fowler arrives here nicely rested after a decent enough sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and I fancy he’ll love this course. He finished runner-up to Adam Scott in the 2013 Australian PGA on his last foray Down Under and he’ll be well aware of his nation’s proud heritage in the tournament. The big negative though is his partner – Jimmy Walker – whose form has dropped off a cliff since he won the USPGA Championship in July. He finished third at the Deutsche Bank in September but that’s been the only decent performance since and his recent efforts have been awful.
Jon Rahm is a Spaniard on the up and I can see him being a force to be reckoned with in majors in the not too distant future but how he’ll gel with the flaky Rafa Cabrera-Bello is anyone’s guess and neither man has seen the course before.
The bang-in-form Alex Noren and PGA Tour winner, David Lingmerth are a potentially potent pairing for Sweden but a complete lack of course form is a concern.
England’s Chris Wood has played here before but he doesn’t have good memories of the experience. He played here as an amateur when he was on the England squad but he only managed about four holes as he was stung in the eye by a bee!
Wood partners Andy Sullivan after a bizarre set of circumstances in the England camp. The increasingly irritating Masters Champ, Danny Willet, was going to partner Lee Westwood but after Willett withdrew from the event Wood, as the next man in the rankings, was called up and he got to choose his own partner. He overlooked Westwood in favour of his mate Sully and it’s a decision that Westwood has whined about vociferously.
All that fuss can’t help the English lads and I can’t help but feel for the pair. I don’t see that Wood has done anything wrong and he defended himself eloquently on Sunday after an impressive final round at the DP World Tour Championship.
“It’s as good as I’ve played on a Sunday for a while so it’s nice to get a bit of form going into the World Cup, get a few people off my back.
“Danny’s the one that pulled out. They know fine well the situation. I’ve got so much respect for Lee as a golfer but I just feel as a team I will gel a little better with Sully.
“I went down the rankings, I did it in as fair a way as I could. There wasn’t this much fuss when Danny jumped myself, Tyrrell (Hatton, Fitzy (Matt Fitzpatrick) and Sully to go to Lee.
“I totally understand Lee’s frustration, you’re ready to go, but myself and Sully are hungry to go and play and surely that’s what you want.”
I hope they do themselves proud but that’s a poor preparation and neither man is in sparkling form either.
The Danish duo of Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen are tempting at around the 20/1 mark and Victor Dubuisson is in fine fettle for the French. He caused a little bit of a rumpus when he chose to play with his good friend, Romain Langasque, so they have a point to prove and at around 50.00 they could be a decent bet but I can’t get past the favourites.
Adam Scott’s course form and knowledge far surpasses anyone else’s in the field and in Leishman he has an able partner who has come close to winning an Open Championship. He’s also come close to winning a US Masters and he played alongside Scotty when he won his Green Jacket. If they can get off to a decent start on Thursday they’ll take the world of beating and they’re a fair price at 5.8.
BACK – Australia at 5.1
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