Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Edoardo and Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Edoardo and Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Defending Omega Mission Hills World Cup champions Francesco and Edoardo Molinari will be treading a well-worn path this week in an attempt to recreate their memorable triumph of two years ago.

In 2009 at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, the Italian brothers travelled without friends and family and only the company of their respective caddies, in an attempt to focus their minds solely on the task of winning the prestigious trophy for Italy for the first time.

The plan worked perfectly as they came from behind to notch a one shot victory over Ireland and Sweden and Edoardo admitted that if something is not broken, then it should not be attempted to be fixed as they defend their crown on the Blackstone Course at the new Mission Hills resort in Hainan Island.

“That worked well for us last year so we have done exactly the same this year,” said Edoardo, the elder of the two brothers. “It will just be the two of us and our caddies, so it will be nice and quiet and hopefully with the same result.”

Francesco admitted that the win was the catalyst for a golden period of Italian golf. “It was a great week,” he said. “We came into the week probably not expecting to win but obviously we tried very hard to do it. Nobody looked at us as favourites but we had more and more fun as the week progressed.

“This year there will be a bit more extra pressure on us so it's definitely going to be interesting.  I think the main thing is for us to go out and try to have fun as we always do when we play together.  And you know, if we are lucky to play some good golf, hopefully we'll have a good result again.

“The win was obviously a big step for both of us, winning against some of the best players in the world, and under such a big pressure, gave us a lot of confidence and helped us a lot last year to go on and achieve everything that we achieved.

“It was probably just not for us but also for Italian golf, as well.  It was a bit of a turning point and helped us make the sport grow in Italy for players coming through like Matteo Manassero and Lorenzo Gagli.

“Becoming world champions in any sport is big; not only for golfers, but for other people as well.  It was a huge title and we got a lot of publicity. Golf was suddenly on the front pages of newspapers and as a result the whole sport started to be more and more popular in our country.”

Like the Italian brothers, another team looking to put their familiarity and close friendship to good effect this week is the South African duo of Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

The pair have been friends since childhood and as junior golfers dreamed about the chance to follow in the footsteps of the legends of South African golf such as Gary Player, Dale Hayes, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen who have all tasted World Cup glory in the past.

“I played with Louis for the first time when I was ten years old,” said Schwartzel. “He was older than me and I was excited to play with him.  We played for South Africa together in junior and amateur golf.  We won the Junior World Championships in Japan with two other friends of ours and we have actuall, as the years have gone on, played so much golf together that we have become best of friends.

“For us to play together here in the World Cup is the culmination of the dream we had together as kids all those years ago. It's an honour to represent South Africa and we are really looking forward to this week.”

“It is definitely an honour and I think it makes it a bit more special playing with Charl,” admitted Oosthuizen. “The two of us since junior golf wanted to play in this and probably imagined playing it together, because we played in so many amateur and junior team events.

“I think we are going to have a good team this week and have a lot of fun.  On the course, it's completely different to what we are used to every week playing a tournament.  Charl had a bit of a taste of the team environment last week in The Presidents Cup, and so hopefully he can show me a few pointers this week.”

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