Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Yang seeks World Cup Glory

Y.E. Yang, who made history by becoming the first Asian Major winner at this year’s US PGA Championship, will hope to cap a superb year when he represents South Korea alongside Charlie Wi at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. Yang held off world number one Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National Golf Club and will attempt to create another landmark in China from November 26 to 29, 2009. Only one Asian nation since 1972 has won the coveted title – Japan in 2002 – but with his first Major under his belt Yang is well equipped to spearhead Korea’s challenge to usurp Sweden as world champions. “It is a great honour and also a privilege to join a group of esteemed golfers and compete for my country,” said Yang. “It is also a pleasure to play side by side with my best buddy in the PGA Tour, Charlie Wi. It’s a really fun feeling to debut the World Cup during one of my best golf seasons, and I am looking forward to not just making an impression on the course, but also connecting with the people of China and all the golf fans in Asia as well as the world. “I hope that together with Charlie, who has been playing some exceptional golf this year, we will try hard to make our fellow Koreans and Asians proud. It will be fun and exciting for us golfers as well as the fans, since the format is set to be more challenging and nail-biting, and you won't be able to take your eyes off of the play.” Sweden’s hopes of defending the title at Mission Hills Golf Club have been boosted by the news that Robert Karlsson is on the brink of a return to competitive action after a lengthy injury lay-off and will be fit to partner Henrik Stenson. Karlsson has not played a tournament since the European Open in May because of vision and balance problems but has confirmed his participation. The 39 year old is the current holder of the Harry Vardon Trophy as Europe’s Number One in 2008 and capped a stunning year when he and Stenson produced a scintillating performance in the final round foursomes in China, carding a nine under par 63 to finish three shots ahead of Spanish pair Miguel Angel Jiménez and Pablo Larrazabal. Karlsson said: “It was a great experience to partner Henrik at the World Cup. It turned out to be a special day for us and for Sweden.” Stenson added: “It was a great week, we had a lot of fun and it was a great experience for Robert and me because we bonded well together for the first time. I am really looking forward to going back to defend with him – if both he and I can bring some game back to China there is no reason why we can’t repeat it.” However, after playing eight events of the 2009 European Tour season, Karlsson discovered a problem with his left eye during the week before the US Open, from which he had to withdraw. He had no depth perception and at one stage it was feared he would not play again for the rest of the year. The 6ft 5in Swede has allayed those fears, though, after confirming his intention to defend Sweden’s title. All 19 exempt nations have confirmed which players will represent them, and a further nine countries - three from each of the qualifiers in Asia (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), South America (Caracas, Venezuela) and Europe (Estonia) - will make it into the 28-country event in China. From the Asian qualifier, Singapore (Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat), Philippines (Mars Pucay and Angelo Que) and Pakistan (Muhammad Shabbir and Muhammad Munir) have already booked their places. Sergio Garcia has accepted the opportunity to represent Spain and will play in his fourth World Cup alongside Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño while Ian Poulter will represent England for the third consecutive year and has selected Ross Fisher as his partner. Northern Ireland will be represented by Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, Japan has Ryuji Imada and Hiroyuki Fujita and the United States will have Nick Watney and John Merrick competing. Rory Sabbatini and Richard Sterne are in for South Africa, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby will represent Australia and Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen and Søren Hansen will play. Current Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer, who recently underwent surgery in the United States following a karting accident, will be back in action in time to join Alex Cejka as Germany’s representatives.India has Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa, Thailand has Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng, Italy has the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo, France has Thomas Levet and Christian Céväer, New Zealand has David Smail and Danny Lee and Chinese Taipei has Lin Wen-tang and Lu Wei-chih. Argentina will have Tano Goya and Rafäel Echenique taking part, while host nation China will be represented by Liang Wen-chong Liang and Zhang Lian-wei. The field was selected through each nation’s leading player on the Official World Golf Ranking, who chose any player from the same country provided such player was ranked within the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking as of either 22 June 2009 or August 17 2009. If there was no other available player from that country within the top 100 on the OWGR on either of the dates, the exempt player’s partner was the next highest ranked available player from the same country outside the top 100 as of August 17. If there was no other available player from that country within the top 500 on the OWGR as at August 17, the exempt player could select a professional of his choosing from the same country, without regard to the chosen player’s World Ranking.

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