The quest to qualify for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup moves to Europe this week as the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Qualifier is staged at the Sierra Golf Club, Wejherowo, Poland.
A total of 13 nations, including hosts Poland, will vie for three tickets to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup which will be played from November 27-30 at Mission Hills Golf Club, China.
Like the Omega Mission Hills World Cup itself, the first and third rounds of the qualifier will use the fourball better ball format while the second and final rounds will use the more difficult foursomes (alternate shot) format.
Canadian Wes Heffernan is hoping to secure his return to Mission Hills this year having partnered Mike Weir in the 2007 edition of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. Heffernan recalled his first World Cup experience as he prepared to play in the Pro-Am in Poland.
“Last year was a new experience for me,” he said. “It was the first time I had played with Mike and I really enjoyed it. The alternate shot format was definitely different. It certainly adds to the pressure as you don’t want to let your partner down, particularly when you have played your way into contention as we did going into the final day.”
Heffernan, a regular on the Canadian Tour, will partner Graham DeLaet in the Qualifier. Both players come to the World Cup Qualifier following wins on the Canadian Tour this season and are currently lying in second and fourth place respectively on their home Tour’s Order of Merit.
The World Cup Qualifier is Delaet’s first taste of the traditional foursomes and fourball format and he is relishing the challenge.
“I’m very excited about being in Poland. This is my first experience of team competition with Wes and the alternate shot format is also new to me. I’m confident that we can do well this week.”
When asked about their tactics for the foursomes DaLaet commented: “We haven’t decided our strategy for the foursomes yet but we will look at this in the Pro-Am round today now we have recovered from our jet lag. “
Like Canada, Switzerland are also eager to play their way back into the World Cup. Their last appearance was in Barbados in 2006 when Martin Rominger and Nicolas Sulzer came through qualifying and finished tied 12th.
This year Rominger, who plays most of his golf on the Asian Tour, has teamed up with André Bossert. A former European Tour champion now playing on the Challenge Tour and winner of the 2008 MAN NÖ Open, Bossert is a seasoned World Cup campaigner having represented his country seven times.
This is the first time that Bossert and Rominger have played together and Rominger is looking forward to a return to team competition.
“I love the World Cup format. I played a lot of team competitions as an amateur such as the European and World Championships and I really enjoy team events. It is a great honour to be able to represent your country and I am looking forward to this week.”
Rominger had a mixed start to the 2008 season on the Asian Tour but feels confident in his game ahead of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Qualifier.
“I had a so-so start to the season but I have had good results in my last four events in Asia and I have just passed the First Stage of the European Tour Q-School so my game is in pretty good shape at the moment.”
Poland’s hopes of qualifying for their first World Cup rest on their leading professionals Jakub Ossowski and Marcin Stelmasiak. Marek Podstolski, President of the Polish PGA, felt optimistic about their chances.
“Our players have a good chance this week,” he said. “They know the course, they are used to the climate and they are familiar with the conditions. They are also very good friends which is important in a team format such as the World Cup Qualifier. Marcin has played in the World Cup Qualifier before so his experience should be an advantage.”
When asked about how important it is for the development of golf Poland to have the home nation competing in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Qualifier
Mr Podstolski said “this is a great experience both for the players and for all of Polish golf. It is vital that we take advantage of opportunities like this to showcase golf in Poland.”
“We have great golf courses in Poland and there are a lot of good golfing destinations that are waiting to be discovered. Sierra Golf Club, our venue this week, is a good example.”
“We are thrilled to have three events with The PGA European Tour this year. It is through these Challenge Tour, Seniors Tour and World Cup Qualifier events that we are able to raise the profile of the game in Poland which is important for the long term growth of the professional game”.
Belgium (G Gresse, L Richard), Canada (W Heffernan and G Delaet), Croatia (D Ljubanovic, M Raic), Czech Republic (J Kucera, O Lebl), Finland (R Kakko, M Korhonen), Greece (G Diakou, T Ginis), Iceland (H Bragson, B Sigurbergsson), Israel (I Cohen, O Geri), Norway (P Nilbrink, K Ree), Poland (J Ossowski, M Stelmasiak), Portugal (R Santos, T Cruz), Slovenia (J Grilc, D Murgelj), (A Bossert, M Rominger).