South Africa, represented by Tim Clark and Rory Sabatini, will launch their defence of the World Golf Championships - EMC² World Cup as The European Tour International Schedule reaches Mexico for the first time from December 12-15.
The Vista Vallarata course at Puerto Vallarta will stage the third edition of the EMC² World Cup under the World Golf Championships banner, following two highly successful events in Argentina and Japan.
The United States team of David Duval and Tiger Woods captured the inaugural championship in Buenos Aires following a thrilling duel with host nation, Argentina. Then last year at the Taiheiyo Club in Japan, South Africa's Ernie Els and Retief Goosen triumphed after a four way play-off.
Els and Goosen edged out Denmark (Thomas Björn and Søren Hansen), New Zealand (Michael Campbell and David Smail) and defending champions America (Duval and Woods) after a two hole play-off, which saw the latter pair of countries eliminated after the first extra hole.
This year Clark, winner of the South African Airways Open in the opening tournament of 2002 in January in Durban, will partner Sabatini in an attempt to repeat the stunning success by Els and Goosen beneath the imposing shadow of Mount Fuji.
A total of 48 players representing 24 nations will compete in the 2002 event, which encompasses two rounds of a foursomes play and two rounds of the fourball better ball format.
The United States, unbeaten over 72 holes since the formation of the World Golf Championships, are seeded Number One through their pairing of Phil Mickelson and David Toms. Fiji's Dinesh Chand and Vijay Singh are ranked second with Ireland at Number Three.
It will be the sixth successive year that Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley have represented their country, having won the title under the old stroke play format at Kiawah Island - the 2003 venue - back in 1997.
Harrington and McGinley first teamed up in 1997, when the event was known as the World Cup of Golf. They finished five strokes ahead of Scotland at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resorts, South Carolina.
"It was way beyond anything we could have expected," said Harrington, the eighth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking.
That victory began a partnership with McGinley that has continued through the event becoming a part of the World Golf Championships series in 2000 and onto this year's tournament in Mexico.
Harrington appreciates the chance to join forces with Ryder Cup hero McGinley - the man who sank the winning putt at The De Vere Belfry in September - and represent their home country in competition.
"We are always playing for ourselves, except for the WGC - EMC² World Cup," said Harrington, who won his sixth European Tour title in last month's BMW Asian Open. "Really, it's the only event left that you play for your country."
In their five previous appearances together, the duo from Dublin, Ireland, have recorded four top ten finishes. Harrington recognises how important the right team chemistry is in this difficult format of two days of foursomes and two days of fourballs.
"Probably the biggest difficulty of the tournament is you've got a two man team, and it doesn't matter how good one guy's form is," added Harrington. "It puts a lot of pressure on the other guy to keep up with those standards, and if he misses a few putts, it can really drag the team down. It's a tough, tough, format."
Sweden are the next highest ranked European nation in eighth place, Niclas Fasth and Carl Pettersson being seeded one place above the youthful combination of England's Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Alastair Forsyth are seeded 11th with Denmark's Hansen and Hansen - Anders and Søren - in 13th ahead of France (Raphaël Jacquelin and Thomas Levet) in 14th, Wales (Bradley Dredge and Ian Woosnam) 16th and Germany (Alex Cejka and Sven Strüver) 18th.
Switzerland also joined the elite field when they won the qualifying event - the Davidoff Nations Cup - at the Palm Resort Golf and Country Club in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. André Bossert and Marc Chatelain finished one stroke ahead of other qualifiers Myanmar and Singapore.