Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell has set his sights on becoming Ireland’s first winner of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf since 1997 when he tees up in the 57th edition of the event, held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from November 21-24.
The current World Number 11 came agonisingly close to winning the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in 2009, when he and playing partner Rory McIlroy finished joint runners-up with Sweden behind Italy’s victorious Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco.
Ireland’s last World Cup win came at Kiawah Island in 1997, when Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley joined forces to see off the Scottish pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Raymond Russell. The only other time Ireland has triumphed at the World Cup of Golf was in 1958, through Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Connor.
Having enjoyed a superb campaign on both sides of the Atlantic this year, McDowell is confident of ending Ireland’s 16-year drought in Melbourne.
The 34 year old from Portrush, Northern Ireland, claimed his second US PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage in April, defeating his fellow Major Champion Webb Simpson of America with a par on the first extra hole of the sudden death play-off.
He then returned to Europe in May and added to his collection of European Tour titles with victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship at the expense of Thongchai Jaidee – who will represent his native Thailand in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.
One month after his win in Bulgaria, McDowell promptly secured his ninth European Tour title with a four-shot victory in the Alstom Open de France.
McDowell, who will be making his third appearance in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, said: “I’ve won three times this year so it has to go down as a great season, and it’d be great to round it off by playing well at the World Cup of Golf. I’ve played the World Cup a few times in the past, and always really enjoyed it. The format has changed slightly this year, but it still retains that team element.
“I’ve been to Melbourne many times before and the courses there have some of the greatest greens and the best bunkers on the planet, so Royal Melbourne is going to be a great venue for the event. It’s definitely my kind of golf course. The wind blows quite hard and the course has a real linksy feel to it. It’s one of the finest links courses in the world, so I’m really looking forward to being part of the World Cup again.”
Hugh Delahunty, Minister for Sport and Recreation, said: “Graeme will certainly be a draw card and a valuable addition to this year’s field for the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.
“He was a fans’ favourite at the 2012 Australian Masters, and has proven that he’s ready to impress the crowds once again and build on his recent successes. We look forward to see him battle it out at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in November.”
Current Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat is looking forward to teaming up again with compatriot Jaidee in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf. The Thai has enjoyed an outstanding season thus far, winning the Maybank Malaysian Open on The European Tour, and also registering four further top tens and a tied 25th finish in the US PGA Championship.
“I remember playing in my first World Cup with Thongchai [Jaidee] in 2011. It was my first time playing in the World Cup, and it was a very good experience for me. Since then I’ve became a better player, because playing in big events only improves your game,” Aphibarnrat said.
“I’ve learned a lot since my World Cup debut, and have gone on to win the Maybank Malaysia Open this year. It was a very important win for me, because it showed that I can win against big name players in a co-sanctioned event. I’m better prepared now, and really looking forward to Melbourne.”
McDowell's compatriot Shane Lowry has also confirmed he will be making his debut, and American Matt Kuchar and Italian Matteo Manassero have also committed to competing in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.
Tickets to witness the tournament are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.com.au.