Luke Donald and David Howell will lead England in their defence of the World Golf Championships – Algarve World Cup in Portugal this week when they line up alongside 23 other nations at Victoria Clube de Golfe, Vilamoura.
Howell in particular will arrive on The Algarve on the crest of a wave having held off the challenge of World Number One Tiger Woods to capture the biggest title of his career in the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. Howell’s victory lifted him past his partner to 13th on the Official World Golf Rankings with Donald 15th in what is a formidable partnership.
Donald and Howell are joined by five of their Ryder Cup team-mates from the record-breaking 2004 European Ryder Cup Team as 24 nations battle it out for a share of the $4,000,000 prize fund on offer.
England won the title 12 months ago when Donald partnered Paul Casey to victory over Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jiménez in a thrilling contest in Seville. This year the tournament crosses the border into Portugal where Donald takes on a new partner in Howell as they seek to become only the third country to successfully defend the title.
Garcia, the highest ranked player in the field at World Number Six, again partners Jiménez as they look to go one better than last year and win the title for the first time since 1984.
Paul McGinley, who capped off his best season to date with a marvellous victory in the Volvo Masters last month that lifted him to third on The 2005 European Tour Order of Merit, partners Padraig Harrington for a ninth successive year. The Irish pair won the World Cup in 1997 before it moved under the umbrella of the World Golf Championships and will be looking to repeat their success at Kiawah Island in South Carolina eight years ago.
Frenchman Thomas Levet, the seventh of The 2004 Ryder Cup players in action, partners Raphaël Jacquelin, winner of the Open de Madrid a month ago. Jacquelin is among 11 winners from The 2005 European Tour season.
Portugal make their debut in the World Cup in its present format as part of the World Golf Championships series with Jose-Filipe Lima and Antonio Sobrinho representing the hosts.
From further afield Angel Cabrera, fifth in The 2005 European Tour Order of Merit and the second highest ranked player in the world, represents Argentina with Ricardo Gonzalez. The United States, the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup with 23 victories since the inaugural tournament in 1953, are this year represented by US Ryder Cup player Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson.
This will be the first time that the World Golf Championships – World Cup has been played in Portugal, and the second time in Europe since the event came under the WGC umbrella and underwent a title and format change in 2000. The World Cup dates back to 1953.
The Victoria Clube de Golfe is the opened for play in 2004 and is one of the longest 18 hole layouts in Portugal. The tournament comprises two rounds of fourballs and two of foursomes over the four days.