Captains’ work begins as teams assemble at Hero Cup

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari with Dr Pawan Munjal, the Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood are excited to make their captaincy debuts as they prepare to lead their respective Continental Europe and Great Britain & Ireland teams at the inaugural Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

The duo, who forged an exceptional partnership at Le Golf National in 2018 in contributing four points from four towards Team Europe’s triumph in the Ryder Cup, will compete as playing captains this week as they go head-to-head by leading two teams which each contain an exciting mix of Major Champions, proven winners and some of the most promising young players in golf.

“It’s a challenge for us, really, to discover what it is to be leading a team,” said Molinari. “It’s a new role and I think we all learned from the captains we had in the past. Winning Ryder Cup teams, Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal, Thomas Bjørn, very successful and yeah, everything you try to pick from each of the captains you’ve had and add a little bit of your style.

“I think both Tommy and I are lucky this week that we have really two good groups of professionals and guys who are motivated. They all come here trying to feet ready to play some good golf, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that obviously makes our job a lot easier.

“You also have the support of Luke and the vice captains. It’s going to be a fun week and it’s going to be a busy week for the two of us, but yeah, it will be a great chance to learn and make mistakes and hopefully not too many, and just try to make the guys comfortable and have them play the golf that we know they can play, have a great competition, and we’ll see who comes out on top on Sunday.”

The two teams of ten, which were constructed by the two captains alongside 2023 Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald, will compete across four sessions from January 13-15, with Friday’s foursomes session followed by two sessions of fourballs on Saturday, before Sunday’s Singles matches will determine the outcome of the Hero Cup.

“The Ryder Cup is a huge motivator for every player in Europe that has a chance to play in September but there is a long way to go before that and you can only go one week at time a time,” said Fleetwood.

“I think playing in a team, I’ve won in teams and I’ve lost in teams as well and definitely winning, it’s going to be a great week no matter what, but I think as teammates and as players, you want to give it a hundred first for everybody that’s involved and for all the teammates and us, that’s what you all will remember from this week.

“But I would love to be a winning captain. I won’t have too many harsh feelings for another captain if they win, but definitely I would love GB&I to win. The last match that GB&I played were in 2013 and got beat but would look to not get beat on this occasion. But yeah, everybody is taking it very seriously and I think if you prepare yourself properly for these particular events, that will hold you in good stead for what’s to come in the future if you manage to make those Ryder Cup teams.”

This week’s event is sponsored by Dr Pawan Munjal and Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and a long-term partner of the European Tour group. Including this week’s event, Hero MotoCorp will sponsor three events on the DP World Tour schedule in 2023 in the form of the forthcoming Hero Dubai Desert Classic, a Rolex Series event, and the Hero Indian Open.

Alongside the match play showpiece, the second G4D Tour event of the year will take place across the first two days of the tournament, with ten of the world’s best Golfers with a Disability competing across 36 holes of stroke play.

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