Date: September 18, 2013
Author: World Cup of Golf

McDowell, Aphibarnrat enter World Cup

Northern Ireland s Graeme McDowell has set his sights on becoming Ireland s first winner of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf since 1997 when he tees up in the 57th edition of the event, held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from November 21-24. McDowell is the latest global star to commit to the prestigious event along with current Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand who is looking forward to teaming up again with compatriot Thongchai in the World Cup of Golf. The burly Kiradech, who is one of the most exciting players to emerge in Asia, has enjoyed an outstanding season thus far where he has won the Maybank Malaysian Open and registered four other top-10s and a tied 25th finish at the US PGA Championship. I remember playing in my first World Cup with Thongchai in 2011. It was my first time playing in the World Cup and it was a very good experience for me. Since then, I ve became a better player. Playing in big events only improves your game and you can get better, said Kiradech. I ve learnt a lot since my World Cup debut and I have gone on to win the Maybank Malaysia Open this year. It was a very important win for me as it showed that I can win against the big name players in a co-sanctioned event. I m better prepared now and looking ahead to Melbourne, it s important to play well as we re playing for our country and every putt is very important. It will not only impact you but also your partner. I m confident that Thongchai and I can put up a better showing this time round. We didn t really do well as we didn t have the chance to play together for a long time. But it s different now. I hang out a lot with him in Europe for the past six months and have been practicing a lot together. We know each other really well now. Current World Number 11 McDowell came agonisingly close to winning the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in 2009, when he and playing partner Rory McIlroy finished joint runners-up with Sweden behind Italy s victorious Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco. Ireland s last World Cup win came at Kiawah Island in 1997, when Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley joined forces to see off the Scottish pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Raymond Russell. The only other time Ireland triumphed at the World Cup of Golf was in 1958, through Harry Bradshaw and Christy O Connor. Having enjoyed a superb campaign on both sides of the Atlantic this year, McDowell is confident of ending Ireland s 16-year drought in Melbourne. The 34-year-old from Portrush, Northern Ireland, claimed his second US PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage in April, defeating his fellow Major Champion Webb Simpson of America with a par on the first extra hole of the sudden death play-off. He then returned to Europe in May and added to his collection of European Tour titles with victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship at the expense of Thongchai Jaidee who will represent his native Thailand in the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf. One month after his win in Bulgaria, McDowell promptly secured his ninth European Tour title with a four-shot victory in the Alstom Open de France. McDowell, who will be making his third appearance in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, said: I ve won three times this year so it has to go down as a great season, and it d be great to round it off by playing well at the World Cup of Golf. I ve played the World Cup a few times in the past, and always really enjoyed it. The format has changed slightly this year, but it still retains that team element. I ve been to Melbourne many times before and the courses there have some of the greatest greens and the best bunkers on the planet, so Royal Melbourne is going to be a great venue for the event. It’s definitely my kind of golf course. The wind blows quite hard and the course has a real linksy feel to it. It’s one of the finest links courses in the world, so I m really looking forward to being part of the World Cup again. Hugh Delahunty, Minister for Sport and Recreation, said: Graeme will certainly be a drawcard and a valuable addition to this year&aposs field for the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf. “He was a fan favourite at the 2012 Australian Masters and has proven that he&aposs ready to impress the crowds once again and build on his recent successes. We look forward to see him battle it out at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in November.” As well as McDowell, Kiradech and Thongchai, American Matt Kuchar and Italian Matteo Manassero have also committed to competing in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.