Imagine Golf Blogs

The 56th World Cup of Golf

A look at this week's event at Mission Hills

Posted Nov 23, 2011 by Chris White

The Molinari brothers won the last World Cup for Italy

The 56th World Cup of Golf gets under way this week at Mission Hills, with the Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari setting out to retain the title they won in 2009 on the same course. Since the last competition, golf has become an Olympic sport, making the World Cup change its structure, becoming a biennial event.

With 28 nations taking part, with two players representing each nation, the range of players participating is vast. The field includes players from outside the top 1,000 in the latest rankings; up to the current world number two Rory McIlroy, who represents Northern Ireland alongside Graeme McDowell.

Members of the winning team will pockets a prize fund of just over $1.2million for their efforts on the par-73 Blackstone course, which spans more than 7,800 yards across Hainan Island. This is the first time the Blackstone course has been used, with the Olazabal layout staging the previous three.

The United States, unsurprisingly, have won the most World Cup titles, with 23, although the most recent was eleven years ago in 2000. The victory for Italy in 2009 was the first time they have won the competition, while South Africa are the second most successful with five victories. Of the 28 nations taking part this year, 15 have not won the World Cup since its inception in 1953 – Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Guatemala, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Zimbabwe.

There are five real contenders for this year’s title, with arguably the best teams available to them teeing off on Thursday. As previously mentioned, Ireland have a great chance at this year’s contest, with the world number 2 and 15 on their side in McIlroy and McDowell, and their friendship and camaraderie could set them up well, as with the Ryder Cup victory. England also have a strong side, with two more experienced Ryder Cup players representing them. Justin Rose lines up alongside Ian Poulter, and the duo will be expected to build on the nation’s recent run of form at the event, finishing in the top six in eight of the last nine years.

The Italians, as holders, are expected to be challengers, but don’t rule out the two most successful nations. The USA are represented by Matt Kuchar, currently number 10 in the world, and the big-hitting Gary Woodland, who will be feeling as though they’ve waited long enough for their 24th title, while the South African pairing of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel looks very strong, with both recent major winners.

Who do you think will win this year’s World Cup of Golf? Share your views with us here, or on Twitter @ImagineGolfClub and on Facebook by clicking here.

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