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Thorbjorn Olesen, Soren Kjeldsen set to defend Denmark’s title
Melbourne, Victoria, AUS – The deadline has now passed to complete the field for the 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf, with each country’s leading player having selected his partner for the unique team format.
England’s Ian Poulter was among the notables selected and will make his sixth appearance in the World Cup competition after being tabbed by fellow countryman Tyrrell Hatton.
The English pairing will start as one of the favourites, along with the previously confirmed Australian duo of Marc Leishman and World Cup debutant Cameron Smith when Australia takes on the world in Melbourne.
South Africa’s Branden Grace selected fellow Presidents Cup veteran and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Grace and Schwartzel, who are both making their second starts in the World Cup of Golf, have combined for seven Presidents Cup appearances.
Two-time PGA TOUR winner Kyle Stanley and seven-time PGA TOUR champion and member of the victorious 2011 World Cup of Golf team Matt Kuchar will provide strong competition for one of golf’s oldest team trophies. Kuchar will add a plethora of team experience to the field in Melbourne, having represented the United States in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup four times apiece, as well as two World Cup of Golf appearances. At the 2018 Ryder Cup, Kuchar will look to aid in his team’s success as a vice captain to Jim Furyk.
Following a four-stroke triumph at Kingston Heath in the 2016 ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, the winning duo from Denmark will return to Melbourne to defend their title, with Thorbjørn Olesen selecting 2016 partner Soren Kjeldsen. The victory was Denmark’s first win in the World Cup of Golf, topping their previous best finish -- a runner up in 2001 by Thomas Bjørn and Soren Hansen. With the win, a European country collected its seventh victory in the last nine editions of the World Cup of Golf.
Due to a late withdrawal by Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, a replacement country and players will be announced in the coming days.
Among the others set to compete at The Metropolitan Golf Club include 2017 PLAYERS Champion Si Woo Kim, who was selected by Byeong Hun An to round out Team Korea. The 23-year-old is making his World Cup of Golf debut after first representing Korea in the 2017 Presidents Cup. Between the duo, they have won the flagship event on the PGA TOUR and European Tour, with An capturing the 2015 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth followed up by Kim’s PLAYERS victory two years later.
Leishman and Grace are among eight players who have played on past International Teams at the Presidents Cup. Kim, Schwartzel, India’s Anirban Lahiri, New Zealand’s Danny Lee, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas round out that list.
Having finished T2 in the 2016 ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, the team of Haotong Li and Ashun Wu are set to return to Melbourne with their sights set on capturing China’s first-ever World Cup of Golf title. Wu is coming off his third career European Tour victory at last week’s KLM Open. Wu and Li also represented China in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Other notables in the field include two-time major champion and former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer as well as World Golf Championships winner Shane Lowry who will be joined by Maximilian Kieffer and Paul Dunne as their respective partners.
“Fans in Australia can expect a thrilling and unique competition as we watch Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith look to reclaim the title on their home soil against Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Branden Grace and many of the world’s top players,” said Executive Director Robyn Cooper.
“But it’s just as exciting to see countries represented where golf is still growing in popularity. To have the top-ranked players competing from countries like Malaysia, Mexico and India shows just how committed those players are to growing the game in their respective nations, and they have a great opportunity to do so on a global stage at the World Cup.”
The 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will be contested at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne from 21-25 November, 2018. The 59th staging of the event will see the 56-player field vie for the largest prize-money purse in Australian golf, with $US7 million on offer.
Known for his clutch play and fiery personality in the Ryder Cup, Poulter will make his sixth appearance on the European team next week in advance of the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf. On the PGA TOUR, the 42-year-old has had one of his best seasons to date, winning his first stroke-play TOUR event at the Houston Open and adding three other top-10 results, including a T5 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and a T10 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I'm obviously delighted to accept Tyrrell's invitation to partner him at the World Cup and to represent England,” Poulter said. “Anyone who knows me is well aware of how much I love team competition and representing my continent and my country. I think we will make a good team. We both play aggressive golf and try and make birdies which is something you need to do in any team event.”
It will be Poulter’s first appearance in the World Cup of Golf since 2011, where he and Justin Rose finished two shots behind the United States team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland. Poulter will look to steer England toward its third World Cup of Golf title and first since 2004 when Paul Casey and Luke Donald teamed up to win in Spain.
“It will be great to go back to Australia too. I love playing down there - Melbourne has some of the best golf courses in the world,” he added. “The Aussies are mad for their sport, too. There's something very special for any England team to win in Australia no matter what the sport is so that will be another little incentive for us as well.”
Currently, Poulter is joined by a past Ryder Cup teammate in former world No. 1 and two-time major champion Kaymer, who has represented the European Team on four occasions and will make his fifth appearance representing Germany in the World Cup of Golf. Denmark’s Olesen is set to make his first Ryder Cup start having qualified for fellow Dane and captain Thomas Bjorn’s team.
ISPA HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf Confirmed teams as of 20 September 2018 *Bold denotes first World Cup of Golf appearance
*Emiliano Grillo was a late withdrawal. The replacement country and players will be announced in the coming days
“The Melbourne Sandbelt is a world-renowned destination for golf and we can’t wait to welcome players from across the globe to the region for the 2018 World Cup of Golf,” said Minister of Tourism and Major Events John Eren.
“The World Cup of Golf, and the upcoming 2019 Presidents Cup, ensure Melbourne maintains its position as Australia’s sporting capital, with visitors filling our hotels and restaurants and delivering jobs for the people of Victoria.”
The 72-hole stroke play team format will feature Four-ball (best ball) play in the first and third rounds and Foursomes (alternate shot) play in the second and final rounds. In 2016, Danes Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen shot a final-round 66 in foursomes at Kingston Heath to win Denmark’s first World Cup of Golf title by four strokes over the United States, China and France.
Australia has won the World Cup of Golf five times, with Scott and Day the most recent winners in 2013 at Royal Melbourne with Leishman and Scott finishing tied for ninth at Kingston Heath in 2016.
The ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf is one of five tournaments that are co-sanctioned by the International Federation of PGA Tours, joining the four events in the World Golf Championships series as tournaments which the Federation oversees. The International Federation of PGA Tours is an organization made up of all Tours from across the globe including the PGA TOUR, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, the ISPS HANDA PGA of Australasia, the Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour (South Africa PGA Tour).
Tickets are now on sale and ticket options range from Wednesday practice round tickets starting at $16.00, single-day competitive round tickets starting at $24.00 and tickets to the upgraded MacKenzie Club (Thurs-Sun) starting at $80.00. Weekly tickets are also available for $96, with a MacKenzie Club option priced at $295. Fans are encouraged to secure their tickets early in order to save.
Three and five-night Melbourne World Cup of Golf tournament travel packages are also available, including accommodation, tickets, souvenir merchandise and coaches to transport you to the event in comfort and style. Fans can also extend their stay in Melbourne and explore further afield with the flexibility to drive, chip and putt to their heart’s content.
Ticket buyers are reminded that youth under the age of 16 are admitted to the event free of charge when accompanied by a ticketed adult. To purchase tickets or find more information on ticket options, fans can log on to www.WorldCupofGolf.com.
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