McIlroy and Lowry unavailable for Hero Cup

Bernie McGuire

Seamus Power (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy along with DP World Tour championship winner Jon Rahm, BMW PGA champion Shane Lowry and also Viktor Hovland have advised organisers they will be unavailable for the 2023 inaugural Hero Cup, with teams for the Abu Dhabi event to be announced later this week.

The absence of McIlroy and Lowry will focus Irish interest on Seamus Power who is expected to compete and has indicated he may also remain in the UAE for the following week’s HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship or the Dubai Desert Classic.

The Hero Cup will feature two 10-player GB&I and European sides playing a Ryder Cup format over the National course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club from the 13th to 15th January.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood will captain the GB&I team while his victorious 2028 Ryder Cup ‘Moliwood’ team-mate, Francesco Molinari will lead the European Team.

The Hero Cup follows on from the Seve Trophy that was staged from 2000 to 2013 and then replaced in 2014 by the EurAsia Cup and with teams from Europe facing an Asian Tour side and with all three biennial matches played in Malaysia

Fleetwood and Molinari, however, will not have the strongest players available for selection to tee-up in Abu Dhabi.  This is due, in part, to the January 5th commencing Sentry Tournament of Champions and also the Sony Open, the week after and both in Hawaii.

Though the absence of the golfing powerhouse duo of McIlroy and Lowry in a GB&I side doesn’t deter Fleetwood with the Englishman very much looking forward to the inaugural event now only seven weeks away.

“It’s going to be a really exciting event as it’s going to be great to start off the New Year with a big, new event out in Abu Dhabi that will help in the build-up to the Ryder Cup,” said Fleetwood.

“We know there are a few guys who couldn’t play but then that presents opportunities for other players to make the Hero team, and get to experience that team environment that they may never have tasted.

“Europe had in place the Seve Trophy for a long time and that was one of the first items of feedback following last year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits that we maybe lacked a team event every other year there was no Ryder Cup.

“So, I’m excited to be a part of the Hero Cup and to have a captain’s role is really cool for me, and I’m looking forward to getting going early next year”.

Of course, present in Abu Dhabi will be the 2023 European Ryder Cup Captain, Luke Donald who, last week in Dubai, arranged a dinner for seven members of the 2021 European side that competed at Whistling Straits.  The five not in attendance are now LIV Golf contracted.

Donald, of course, will be on hand in Abu Dhabi overseeing the competition.

“It’s great Luke is going to be there, as you would expect him to be, so I’m looking forward to his input,” said Fleetwood.

One of those to be expected to be picked is Frenchman Victor Perez, and ending the 2022 DP World Tour season 22nd on the money list.  The Scottish-based Perez is 20th on the ‘European’ Ryder Cup points standings and 24th on the ‘World’ points table.

“It would be great to be chosen in Francesco’s side as it would be a great place to start the new season competing in the Hero Cup,” he said.

“You can then head into the formal part of the new season playing the HSBC Abu Dhabi and then the Dubai Desert Classic, which are huge events, having competition at the Hero Cup.

“It will have been a seven-week break for me if I get selected in the Hero, so it would be an honour to be selected and start my year at that event.

“I haven’t spoken to Francesco but I’m sure whoever he picks will be excited to be in the team format that can only help build camaraderie and team spirit.  There’s nothing like new competition and there’s like playing a tournament that will be competitive but with nothing to lose and hopefully all to gain later next year, so hopefully I will be heading to Rome.

“Of course, we will be playing in January but I do feel that it can only help in eventual selection for the Ryder Cup.”

Irish Golfer Magazine sees the likely make-up of the two sides to be chosen this week as follows:


Tommy Fleetwood (England – captain)

Ewen Ferguson (Scotland)

Matthew Fitzpatrick (England)

Tyrrell Hatton (England)

Robert MacIntyre (Scotland)

Eddie Pepperell (England)

Seamus Power (Ireland)

Callum Shinkwin (England)

Jordan Smith (England)

Danny Willett (England)


Francesco Molinari (Italy – captain)

Adri Arnaus (Spain)

Thomas Detry (Belgium)

Rasmus Hojgaard (Denmark)

Arian Meronk (Poland)

Guido Migliozzi (Italy)

Alex Noren (Sweden)

Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark)

Antoine Rozner (France)

Sepp Straka (Austria)

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