x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

McIlroy and McDowell to pair up for Ireland in World Cup

Past two US Open winners join forces again at this year's Omega Mission Hills World Cup with Italy's Molinari brothers set to defend the title.

MISSION HILLS, CHINA // Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will team up for Ireland at this year's Omega Mission Hills World Cup, according to the event's organisers, with Italy's Molinari brothers set to defend the title.

US Open winner McIlroy, ranked fifth in the world, picked Ryder Cup hero and partner McDowell, for the November 24-27 event in China, reprising a duo that was narrowly beaten in the 2009 edition.

"Graeme and I really enjoyed the experience at Mission Hills two years ago. We only missed out by a shot, and are looking forward to forming the Irish team again and trying to go one better this time," the 22 year old McIlroy said.

The pair, both from Northern Ireland, were last month joined by fellow countryman Darren Clarke as major winners, but it was to McDowell that McIlroy gave the selection nod.

"There is nothing quite like representing Europe in the Ryder Cup or Ireland in the World Cup — It's a real buzz," said McDowell, the 2010 US Open winner.

"We worked well as a partnership two years ago, and we can't wait to try to claim the title at Hainan Island."

Charl Schwartzel the Masters winner, has also confirmed his participation in the biennial tournament and will pair up with last year's British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen for South Africa.

Italy's Edoardo and Francesco Molinari won in 2009. Francesco, the highest ranked Italian at No 23 in the world, could have selected Matteo Manassero (30th) as his partner, but opted for his brother (43rd) instead.

Eighteen exempt nations out of the 28 lining up at Hainan Island have confirmed their entry. Their partners have to be announced by August 22.

Nine more countries will qualify via regional qualifiers in Asia, Europe and South America, with the top three from each gaining exemption.

As the host nation, China qualifies automatically for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup to complete the field.

Martin Kaymer, the USPGA champion and world No 3, will represent Germany, with England's Ian Poulter and America's Matt Kuchar also confirmed. All three are yet to select their playing partners.