Malaysia is among six Asian nations that have qualified for the 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup, the others being South Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and India.
The contest, timed for Nov 21-25 at The Metropolitan Golf Club, will feature two-man teams from the top-28 nations based on the Official World Golf Ranking. Malaysia will be represented by Gavin Kyle Green (main pic) and Ben Leong.
The 59th staging of the event will see the 56-player field vie for US$7 million (RM29.05 million) in prize money. The top-ranked players from each of the top-28 countries had until Sept 13 to commit to the tournament and the final field was announced on Sept 20.
The qualified countries and their players are: Australia (Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith), England (Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter), US (Kyle Stanley and Matt Kuchar), Thailand (Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prom Meesawat), South Africa (Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel), Denmark (Thorbjørn Olesen and Søren Kjeldsen).
Japan (Satoshi Kodaira and Hideto Tanihara), Korea (An Byeong-hun and Kim Si-woo), China (Li Haotong and Wu Ashun), Canada (Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor), Scotland (Russell Knox and Martin Laird), Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry), Sweden (Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren), New Zealand (Ryan Fox and Danny Lee).
Venezuela (Jhonattan Vegas and Joseph Naffah), Spain (Adrián Otaegui and Jorge Campillo), Ireland (Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne), France (Alexander Levy and Michaël Lorenzo-Vera), Austria (Bernd Wiesberger and Matthias Schwab), India (Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri), Netherlands (Joost Luiten and Daan Hizing), Finland (Mikko Korhonen and Mikko Ilonen).
Mexico (Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz), Germany (Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer), Italy (Andrea Pavan and Renato Paratore), Zimbabwe (Scott Vincent and Benjamin Follett-Smith) and Malaysia (Green and Leong).
Due to a late withdrawal by Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, a replacement country and players have yet to be announced.
In the history of the World Cup of Golf, only Japan and Chinese Taipei have won the prestigious team event for Asia.
Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono delivered a popular home win for Japan in 1957, while Toshimitsu Izawa and Shigeki Maruyama teamed up for a second Japanese triumph in Mexico in 2002, which was also the last time an Asian country won the event. Hsieh Min-Nan and Lu Liang-Huan earned Chinese Taipei’s lone World Cup of Golf success in 1972, when it was staged at Royal Melbourne.
In 2016, when the World Cup of Golf was played at Kingston Heath in Melbourne, China’s Li and Wu contended for the title, but tied second place in the end.
In the last World Cup of Golf held at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne two years ago, Malaysia’s Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung teamed up to finish T22. Malaysia’s best finish was in 1994 when M Ramayah and the late P Gunasegaran finished ninth in Puerto Rico.
Green created history in 2017 when he became the first Malaysian to lift the Asian Tour Order of Merit title, the second youngest golfer after Noh Seung-yul to win the accolade. During the season, he won a maiden Asian Tour victory in Chinese Taipei and finished runner-up on two other occasions.
In recent weeks, the long-hitting Malaysian finished third in the Czech Masters and T12 at the European Masters and is currently ranked 173rd in the world.
“It’s amazing that I’ve qualified for the World Cup of Golf. I’ve always wanted to play in the event and to have the opportunity to represent Malaysia, I can’t wait to get to Melbourne and hope to give it my best shot.
“I first took notice of the World Cup of Golf when Tiger (Woods) and Mark O’Meara won it in Malaysia back in 1999. I was like six years old then and had just started playing golf. And when the Molinari brothers (Francesco and Edoardo) won it in 2009, I kind of thought, “hey, I want to try and do this too with my younger brother (Galven) some day.”
“Strangely, I’ve never been to Australia before, so it’s something I am looking forward to in November. It’s a big deal when you can travel to new places and I’ve heard the sandbelt courses in Melbourne are really good and they suit the long hitters. I’ll be curious to see what it’s like when I get there.”
To purchase tickets or find more information about the event, fans can log on to www.worldcupofgolf.com.