There is certain to be three Irish players in Tommy Fleetwood’s GB&I team for next January’s inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Fleetwood has been named as one captain with Francesco Molinari set to captain the opposing 10-man European Team, with the event taking place early in January on the National course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Of course, it was Fleetwood and Molinari who came together so sensationally forming their now famed unbeaten ‘Moliwood’ partnership at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Versailles but now they will go head-to-head in the UAE capital.
The Hero Cup replaces both the Seve Trophy and the more-recent Euro/Asia Cup that were held as team breeding events for potential Ryder Cup pairings.
And this is the intention of the Hero Cup with European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald now afforded a similar ‘teaming’ opportunity like so many European Captains before him.
The three Irish to be members of Fleetwood’s side will undoubtedly be current World number 1 Rory McIlroy, BMW PGA champ Shane Lowry and current FedEx Cup No. 1 Seamus Power.
McIlroy and Lowry are currently one and three on the European Ryder Cup ‘European’ points table, while Power has shot to No. 1 on the ‘World’ table thanks to a sensational fortnight in capturing the Bermuda Championship and backing it up with a share of third in last week’s Mayakoba Championship in Mexico.
McIlroy played in just one Seve Trophy, in 2009, at Sainte Nom-la-Breteche in Versailles, where he and Graeme McDowell teamed to win three of four ‘team’ matches. They were then out first and second in the Sunday Singles that saw the Paul McGinley led side five-point winners over a Thomas Bjorn led European side.
For Lowry, though he played in last year’s European Ryder Cup team, as well as Power it will be a first taste of ‘in-house’ team competition and Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald and his vice-captain, Thomas Bjorn will be on hand in Abu Dhabi.
Selection will take into account performances on the DP World Tour Rankings with the contest itself consisting of one session of foursomes, one session of fourballs and one session of singles matches, with all 20 players taking part in each session. Members of the winning team will each earn US$125,000, with those on the losing team each receiving US$75,000.
If both teams were picked this week, and purely off their current Ryder Cup qualification standings, this would be make-up of both Hero Cup sides:
Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) – Playing Captain
Rory McIlroy (NIre)
Shane Lowry (Ire)
Seamus Power (Ire)
Bob MacIntyre (Scot)
Jordan Smith (Eng)
Danny Willett (Eng)
Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng)
Callum Shinkwin (Eng)
Eddie Pepperell (Eng)
Francesco Molinari (Italy) – Playing Captain
Jon Rahm (Spain)
Thomas Detry (Belgium)
Yannick Paul (Germany)
Adrian Otaegui (Spain)
Rasmus Hojgaard (Denmark)
Guido Miglozzi (Italy)
Matthieu Pavon (France)
Sepp Straka (Austria)
Victor Hovland (Norway)