Siblings' rivalry is with rest of the world
Updated: 2011-11-23 08:09
BEIJING - The Italian team of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari will this week bid to become the first nation in more than a decade to retain the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
The pair became the first brothers - and the first Italians - to win the World Cup when they edged out Ireland and Sweden by a single stroke two years ago, and the Molinaris will now try to emulate the achievement of David Duval and Tiger Woods in 2000, when they kept the trophy in American hands following Woods' triumph in tandem with Mark O'Meara 12 months previously.
The brilliant brothers clinched the title in thrilling fashion on the final hole at Mission Hills Golf Club, where Francesco played an exquisite bunker shot and Edoardo duly rolled in the par putt from three feet to spark wild celebrations.
Francesco recalled: "It's always a great feeling to represent your country, and my memories of the last World Cup were that it was a lot of fun - especially as I was playing with my brother. Of course there's pressure, but it's a nice type of pressure."
Two years on, they will have a different course to contend with after the $7.5 million event was switched to the Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island, a stunning tropical island.
But if the venue is new, many of the faces will be familiar, with the Irish duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell returning to China determined to go one better.
McDowell said: "I was delighted when Rory selected me to be his partner again. There is nothing quite like representing Europe in the Ryder Cup or Ireland in the World Cup - it's a real buzz. We worked well as a partnership two years ago, and we can't wait to try to claim the title at Hainan Island."
Robert Karlsson is also intent on banishing the painful memories of Sweden's narrow defeat, though instead of his regular partner, Henrik Stenson, he will be paired with Alex Noren, who already has two titles to his name so far this season.
Karlsson, who linked up with Noren to win the Royal Trophy last year, is seeking his second victory at the Mission Hills World Cup, having triumphed with Stenson in 2008.
The biggest threat to the top three from two years ago could well come from the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who will be hoping to bring their Major presence to bear as they make their debuts at the World Cup.
Twenty-eight teams will battle it out over four days of competition, featuring a mixture of foursomes and four balls.
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