Major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are hoping their chemistry will produce a winning formula for Ireland at the World Cup teeing off in southern China on Thursday.
The pair are seeking to go one better in the two-man team event after finishing joint runners-up two years ago behind Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari who are defending their title on Hainan Island.
“It’s a partnership that has worked well in the past and I think we have a very good chemistry on and off the course,” said 2011 US Open winner and world number two McIlroy.
The Ryder Cup partners are favourites to win the tournament at the Mission Hills golf resort which includes four-ball and foursomes play.
“There is no doubt that chemistry on the golf course is very important. You have to be able to motivate and inspire each other — especially if we go through a run of a few holes where we are not playing great,” said 2010 US Open winner McDowell.
Brotherly love might again play an important in the winning equation for the Molinari brothers after they secured Italy’s first World Cup win at Mission Hills’ sister golf complex in Shenzhen in 2009.
Only the US and Spain have retained the title since the inaugural competition in 1953 with America dominating the tournament with 23 wins.
“It was just fantastic to win two years ago because neither of us had won such a big tournament before. And when you play for your country, there’s always a little bit of extra pressure,” Edoardo Molinari said.
“Hopefully, we can do the same this year. But the most important thing is that we are playing quite well and we know each other’s game,” he added.
The Molinaris are one of three sets of siblings competing at the $7.5-million event, along with Colombia’s Camilo and Manny Villegas and Ricardo and Hugo Santos of Portugal.
Twenty-eight nations will vie for the 56th World Cup on the tricky 18-hole Blackstone course which is built on a dormant volcano and landscaped out of the complex’s signature lava rock.
The event pits some of golf’s top stars against players well down the rankings.
Reigning Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen are representing South Africa while 2010 PGA Champion and world number four Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka represent Germany.
England’s hopes lie with Ian Poulter and Justin Rose and Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar are representing the US.
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez are also strong contenders.
Host nation China are hoping veteran Liang Wenchong, ranked 252, and fledgling talent Zhang Xinjun, ranked 647, will upset the natural order with a strong showing.
“There is going to be a lot of pressure on Zhang and myself but at the same time we can use that as motivation. We should have a lot of Chinese supporters following us,” Liang said.
The Chinese players qualified due to their host status and it is hoped their presence will draw in the crowds at the five-star golf and spa resort replete with fake volcanoes. — AFP