In comparison to the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September, it’s a low-key team event and very few will remember the inaugural match between Team Europe and Team Asia ending 10-10 two years ago. So, to set the scene as Darren Clarke and Jeev Milka Singh lead their teams into battle:
How important is this event for Europe in preparation for the Ryder Cup?
Huge, and moreso for Clarke than the 12 players in his team. He’s served as an assistant to both Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal in the Ryder Cup, but this is his first assignment holding the reins. As the Seve Trophy did in the past, an event like this definitely helps prepare the European players for the biennial meeting with the Americans, even though that, of course, is played in a more intense environment.
Any indications yet about Clarke’s style of captaincy?
Fairly laid-back if the sight of his players practising in shorts is anything to go by. In fairness, that decision was taken due to the temperature, but it is a sign nonetheless that the Ulsterman is going do things how he sees fit, and rightly so. Former captain Paul McGinley talked a lot about Europe’s “template” but, at the same time, it’s only natural that each new captain will have his own ideas.
How many players can we expect to also feature in the Ryder Cup?
Two years ago, it was five, including all three of the rookies in McGinley’s team at Gleneagles – Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and, of course, Stephen Gallacher. Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn were the others and it’s unlikely the number will be any higher this time around, even though the teams have been increased by two to 12.
Is there any significance in Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood being the wild cards?
Definitely. Having picked them, Clarke is clearly keen to give the experienced English pair every chance he can to stake a strong claim should they be in the same position for Hazeltine and, with both starting their 2016 campaigns outside the world’s top 50, that could well be a possibility.
Who can really grasp this week’s opportunity?
Shane Lowry took his game to another level by becoming a WGC winner last season and the Irishman will be relishing the chance to play fourballs and foursomes for the first time since his amateur days. So, too, will Matt Fitzpatrick.
Danny Willett (Eng)
Ross Fisher (Eng)
Victor Dubuisson (Fra)
Chris Wood (Eng)
Andy Sullivan (Eng)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)
Shane Lowry (Ire)
Bernd Wiesberger (Aut)
Soren Kjeldsen (Den)
Kristoffer Broberg (Swe)
Ian Poulter (Eng)
Lee Westwood (Eng)
Captain: Darren Clarke
Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
Shingo Katayama (Jpn)
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)
S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind)
Danny Chia (Mal)
K.T. Kim (Kor)
Byeonghun An (Kor)
Nicholas Fung (Mal)
Wu Ashun (China)
Prayad Marksaeng (Tha)
Jeunghun Wang (Kor)
Captain: Jeev Milka Singh
Friday: Six fourballs
Saturday: Six foursomes
Sunday: 12 singles
Poulter/Weisberger v Lahiri/Wang
Willett/Fitzpatrick v Ben An/Jaidee
Dubuisson/Kjeldsen v Chia/Fung
Fisher/Broberg v Marksaeng/Kim
Lowry/Sullivan v Ashun/Katayama
Westwood/Wood v Chowrasia/Aphibarnrat