Aus­tralia chase back-to-back World Cup ti­tles

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia go in search of back-to-back World Cup wins in Mel­bourne this week at an event tinged with con­tro­versy over team picks by Eng­land and Scot­land.

The last time it was held in 2013 the World Cup was pri­mar­ily an in­di­vid­ual tour­na­ment, with a 60-strong field fea­tur­ing two play­ers from each coun­try par­tic­i­pat­ing in 72 holes of stroke play.

World num­ber one Ja­son Day won the in­di­vid­ual ti­tle for Aus­tralia, while Day and Adam Scott clinched the team por­tion for the best ag­gre­gate score.

This year it re­turns to 28 two-man teams play­ing 72 holes of stroke play. The first and third days will be the four­somes and the sec­ond and fi­nal days the four­ball play.

Day is a no-show due to a back in­jury, leav­ing Scott to de­fend the ti­tle with Marc Leish­man at Mel­bourne’s Kingston Heath Golf Club.

“I’m ex­tremely ex­cited about play­ing in the World Cup of Golf with Adam,” said Leish­man of his un­ex­pected call-up.

The event has en­ticed many of the top 50 with US$8 mil­lion in prize money, in­clud­ing num­ber seven Scott and two of the sport’s hottest golfers-Ja­pan’s sixth-ranked Hideki Mat­suyama and Swe­den’s num­ber nine Alex Noren.

Mat­suyama has won three of his last four events while Noren has been a win­ner four times this sea­son.

The United States are ex­pected to be in the hunt on Sun­day, with Ry­der Cup hero Rickie Fowler and reign­ing US PGA Cham­pi­onship win­ner Jimmy Walker.

The build-up has seen con­tro­versy with Eng­land’s Chris Wood and Scot­land’s Rus­sell Knox both draw­ing crit­i­cism for their choice of play­ing part­ners. For­mer world num­ber one Lee West­wood had his flight for Mel­bourne booked af­ter be­ing picked to be the Eng­land team­mate of US Masters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett.

But when Wil­lett with­drew be­cause of a back in­jury two weeks ago, the chance to fly the flag for Eng­land went to the next-high­est player on the world rank­ings in Wood. He chose Andy Sul­li­van, leav­ing West­wood re­port­edly fum­ing.

Wood said he could un­der­stand West­wood’s frus­tra­tion to a point. “But it was Dan (Wil­lett) who pulled out that af­fected him. It had noth­ing to do with me,” Wood said Tues­day.

“Dan had the choice to pick a few months ago and he looked past the likes of my­self, Andy Sul­li­van and Matthew Fitz­patrick to pick Lee. And I’m sure all of us were a lit­tle bit frus­trated by that, but noth­ing was made of it.

“I’ve gone down the rank­ings and Sulli was the guy be­hind me and that was the right way to do it, I be­lieve.”

The same is true for Knox, whose choice of close friend Dun­can Ste­wart as part­ner also raised some eye­brows on the Euro­pean scene.

“I could pick any­one in the top 500 in the world and I did,” said Knox, who has won twice on the PGA Tour in the past 12 months. “I don’t re­ally care what other peo­ple think.”

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