Tuesday, November 22, 2011


                             Edoardo and Franceso Molinari ... first brothers to win World Cup

The Italian team of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari will this week bid to become the first nation for more than a decade to retain the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
The pair became the first brothers – and the first Italians – to win the World Cup when they edged out Ireland and Sweden by a single stroke two years ago, and the Molinaris will now try to emulate the achievement of David Duval and Tiger Woods in 2000, when they kept the trophy in American hands following Woods’ triumph in tandem with Mark O’Meara 12 months previously.
The brilliant brothers clinched the title in thrilling fashion on the final hole at Mission Hills Golf Club, where Francesco played an exquisite bunker shot and Edoardo duly rolled in the par putt from three feet to spark wild celebrations.
Francesco recalled: “It’s always a great feeling to represent your country, and my memories of the last World Cup were that it was a lot of fun – especially as I was playing with my brother. Of course there’s pressure, but it’s a nice type of pressure.
“In previous World Cups we’d always got off to bad starts, but last time we managed to get off to a good start. As the week went on, we seemed to get stronger and our games improved. We managed to get into contention and hole some important putts at the right time, and we were one ahead going down the last.
“When we got to the bunker the lie was quite good, so I knew we still had a great chance of getting up and down to win the tournament. I left Edoardo with a three-foot putt, which I was glad he had to hole because I think I might’ve been a little bit nervous standing over it.”
“The joy was unbelievable when my putt dropped,” said Edoardo. “My first thought was to embrace Francesco as soon as I could, because we’d been playing golf together since we were little, so to win the World Cup together for our country was a dream come true. We used to watch a lot of World Cups when we were young, when Costantino [Rocca] represented Italy. I never thought that one day we’d be playing in the World Cup, let alone winning it.”
Two years on, they will have a different course to contend with after the US$7.5million event was switched to the Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island, a stunning tropical island in the South China Sea.
But if the venue is new many of the faces will be familiar, with the Irish duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell returning to China determined to go one better.
Had McDowell’s birdie putt on the last hole two years ago rolled just a few inches further, the pair would have forced a play-off with the Molinari brothers. But instead, they fell agonisingly short of becoming the first Irishmen since Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley in 1997 to lift the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
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.”
Robert Karlsson is also intent on banishing the painful memories of Sweden’s narrow defeat, though instead of his regular partner Henrik Stenson he will instead be paired this time with Alex Noren, who already has two titles to his name so far this season.
Karlsson, who linked up with Noren to winning effect at the Royal Trophy last year, is seeking his second victory at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, having triumphed in tandem with Stenson in 2008.
“People might think that Alex will be looking up to me because I am the older more experienced player,” said Karlsson, “but after the year he has had I think it should be the other way round!
“It’s going to be great. I picked Alex because he has won twice this year, and he is a great player. He is the kind of guy who can make a lot of birdies when he gets going, and that is very important in the World Cup format.
“We played together a couple of times in the Royal Trophy so I’m very confident that the partnership will work well, because we played two games together and won both of them. It’s going to be very exciting.”
The biggest threat to the top three from two years ago could well come from the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who will be hoping to bring their Major presence to bear as they make their debuts at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Oosthuizen said: “Charl and I have been looking forward to the World Cup for a while now. Since juniors we’ve dreamed about playing for South Africa in the World Cup, so now that it’s actually happening it’s going to be very special. We’ve played a lot of amateur events together for South Africa and it’s always a big honour to represent your country. We’re both really looking forward to it.”
Other leading contenders include: the Danish duo of Anders Hansen and Thorbjørn Olesen who has replaced the injured Thomas Björn, England’s pairing of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, the German duo of Alex Cejka and Martin Kaymer, the Spanish pair of Miguel Angel Jiménez and Alvaro Quiros and America’s representatives Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
Scotland's pairing is Martin Laird from the US PGA Tour and Stephen Gallacher from the European Tour.
A total of 28 teams will battle it out over four days of competition, featuring a mixture of foursomes and four-balls.

Mission Hills GC, Hainan Island, China
(All times Local, China is 8 hrs ahead of GMT):

0745 Karlsson and Noren (Sweden), Lee and da Silva (Brazil)

0800 Jaidee and Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Hansen and  Olesen (Denmark)
0815 Davies and Donaldson (Wales), Green and Jones (Australia)
0830 Colsaerts and Theunis (Belgium), Jimenez and  Quiros (Spain)
0845 Oosthuizen and Schwartzel (South Africa), Acuna and Toledo (Guatemala)

0900 Villegas and Villegas (Colombia), De Jonge and McDonald (Zimbabwe)
0915 Derksen and Luiten (Netherlands), Kuchar and Woodland (USA)
0930 Jacquelin and Bourdy (France), Kim and Park (South Korea)
0945 Praegant and Steiner (Austria), Poulter and Rose (Eng)

1000 Santos and Santos (Portugal), Hiratsuka and Ikeda (Japan)
1015 Cejka and Kaymer (Germany), Hendry and Paddison (New Zealand)
1030 Gallacher and Laird (Scotland), De Jesus Rodriguez and Serna (Mexico)
1045 Lam and Mamat (Singapore), McDowell and McIlroy (Ireland)

1100 Liang and Zhang (China), Molinari and Molinari (Italy)



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