As the PGA TOUR settles into its annual hibernation for the holidays, we're reminded immediately that the sport is global. There may not be a better example of it than this week's ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.
Two-man teams representing 28 countries from six continents have assembled at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia, for the biennial competition. Scroll beneath the ranking for details on the course, the format and more.
Belgium … Former University of Illinois teammates Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry should have a blast. Detry is as much of a machine as any non-winner on the European Tour. Pieters' profile as a bomber overshadows his phenomenal putting.
China … Hao Tong Li and Ashun Wu surprised en route to sharing runner-up honors at Kingston Heath two years ago, so they're back to go one better. Li recently connected five straight top-11 finishes.
Mexico … Fresh off victory at the Emirates Australian Open, Abraham Ancer is one of the hottest talents in the world right now, but teammate Roberto Díaz is 742nd in the Official World Golf Ranking.
As spring blooms Down Under, this international field gets everything it wants at The Metropolitan Golf Club. A cornerstone of the famed Sandbelt, its history and beauty rivals any other test on the planet.
Metropolitan may be most familiar to longtime fans of the sport as the host of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2001, but it's also served as the backdrop at times for all three of the events comprising the Triple Crown in Australia as well as the 2009 Women's Australian Open.
Presented at 7,308 yards for this week's 72-hole, stroke-play contest, Metropolitan is a stock par 72, but three each of the par 3s and par 5s are situated on the outward nine. This won't matter in four-ball in Rounds 1 and 3, but because all four of the par 3s are even-numbered holes – Nos. 2, 6, 8 and 12 – strategy will come into play in Rounds 2 and 4 when foursomes is utilized. (This is the opposite format from when Denmark's Thorbjørn Olesen and Søren Kjeldsen rode a 12-under 60 in four-ball in the second round en route to a four-stroke victory at Kingston Heath Golf Club in 2016.)
Unlike the majority of tracks outside the United States, Metropolitan's greens are manicured to run fast. In ideal conditions, Stimpmeter readings exceed 12 feet on the bentgrass putting surfaces. Unfortunately, bad weather is forecast. After daytime temperatures climbed into the 80s through Monday, a cold front will limit reading to no higher than the upper 50s and low 60s throughout the tournament. What's more, rain is all but guaranteed to fall on Thursday and Friday. And that's still not all. Winds will howl steadily at approximately 15 mph and gust to 25 mph or more.
As it concerns the challenges within the control of the competitors, the longest rough is trimmed to 2 inches, but the primary hazard are the striking bunkers that dominate the landscape. There's zero margin for error adjacent to most of them as fairways and greens drop helplessly over sharp edges of numerous revamped faces.
Of the 56 golfers in all, 33 competed somewhere last weekend, 25 of whom at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Seven acclimated at the Emirates Australian Open over in Sydney, while Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent descended from the Japan Golf Tour's Dunlop Phoenix.
No doubt the champions of the World Cup entirely will feel like they've not only prevailed over the competition, but the elements as well. First place of the $7-million prize fund awards $2.24 million with $1.12 million going to each member of the winning team.