The first DP World Tour event in 2023 will see players from Continental Europe and Great Britain and Ireland compete across three days of team match play at the inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi. Here are your five things to know.
New event marks start of Middle East Swing
The Hero Cup is a new team match play contest that is making its debut on the DP World Tour. Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, both multiple-time winners on Tour, serve as playing Captains of the respective Continental Europe and Great Britain and Ireland teams. Molinari and Fleetwood have worked in close conjunction with Luke Donald, who will oversee the event in his capacity as 2023 European Ryder Cup captain, to select the teams. Performance on the season-long Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex last year was a key factor in the player selection process.
The Hero Cup contest will serve as the start of back-to-back events in Abu Dhabi and the first of four consecutive events in the United Arab Emirates. After this week’s team match play contest, there will be back-to-back Rolex Series events with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. Following that, the Ras Al Khaimah Championship will be the final event in the region, taking place at the start of February.
The Hero Cup takes place over three days from January 13-15. The two ten-man teams will go head-to-head across one session of fourballs on Friday from 11:05am, two sessions of foursomes on Saturday with the morning session getting underway at 07:35am and the afternoon at 12.20pm. Finally, one session of singles matches will take place on Sunday from 10:35am.
All 20 players from both teams will be involved in each session. One point is offered to the winner of each match, with half a point given to each team in the case of a tied match. In total, there are a possible 25 points on offer.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club is no stranger to the DP World Tour, having previously hosted the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for 16 consecutive years from 2006. The clubhouse is striking, designed in the shape of a falcon with its wings outstretched. The 7,642-yard par 72 National Course features a quartet of par fives, with the shortest being the closing 562-yard 18th which is played over water and sure to provide a dramatic finish to matches which go the distance.
Three members of the Great Britain and Ireland field have fond memories of previous visits to the National Course. Fleetwood is a two-time course winner after he won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, before Lowry triumphed in the first staging since the event was elevated to Rolex Series in 2019. Hatton was the last victor at the venue after a dominant performance saw him secure a fourth Rolex Series triumph in 2021.
Across the two ten-man teams, there are two Major Champions, four different Rolex Series winners and 17 DP World Tour winners. Molinari, the 2018 Open Champion, boasts proven winners in his Continental Europe side with Alex Noren and Thomas Pieters, who will defend his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title next week.
They are joined by Sepp Straka, already a winner on the PGA TOUR, and Guido Migliozzi, who ended a three-year wait to win his third DP World Tour title at the Cazoo Open de France in September. Continental Europe also have Poland’s first DP World Tour winner, Adrian Meronk, and fellow two-time Tour winners Victor Perez and Nicolai Højgaard, who was a late replacement after his twin brother Rasmus withdrew due to injury. Thomas Detry is also featuring after the Belgium’s strong start to his rookie PGA TOUR season, while Antoine Rozner secured the final spot on the back of winning his third Tour title in as many years at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in December.
Great Britain and Ireland playing captain Fleetwood, who sealed his sixth DP World Tour victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November, will be able to count upon fellow Ryder Cup stars Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton. Alongside them are Irishman Séamus Power, who leads the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Standing, and DP World Tour winners Ewen Ferguson, Robert MacIntyre, Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith and Matt Wallace. Richard Mansell rounds off their line-up after a breakthrough year in 2022 which saw the Englishman register six top ten finishes.
G4D Tour stars back in action
The expanded second season of the G4D Tour (Golf for the Disabled Tour) continues this week with the G4D Tour @ Hero Open taking place on Friday and Saturday. World Number Two Brendan Lawlor – who was the first All Abilities player to compete in a DP World Tour event – headlines the ten-person field. There are a further five of the top ten in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability competing, with Tommaso Perrino and Mike Browne aiming to replicate their triumphs during the inaugural G4D Tour season last year.
This year’s season features an expanded calendar of eight events in six countries, with the introduction of a season-long Order of Merit to determine the Number One player. England’s World Number One Kipp Popert, who won four titles in the inaugural campaign, claimed his fifth G4D Tour win at the season-opening Australian All Abilities Championship in December.