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Scott Favored in New World Cup of Golf Format
The World Cup of Golf has a new format. The 72-hole event formerly pitted two players from the same country in rotating rounds of best-ball and alternate-shot.
But this year, for the first time, it becomes primarily an individual event with a team component. The 60-player field tees off Thursday at Royal Melbourne. The famed course just came off hosting the Australian Masters, won by native son Adam Scott.
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion at Augusta National and ranked No. 2 in the world behind Tiger Woods, also won the Australian PGA. The 33-year-old Adelaide native only needs to win the Australian Open in Sydney next week to secure the "Australian Slam." A fourth triumph in the World Cup of Golf is being talked about as the "Scotty Slam."
A victory this week in the $8 million World Cup of Golf would certainly keep Scott's hot streak alive and move him close to overtaking Woods as No. 1.
The individual portion of the event receives $7 million, while the remaining $1 million goes to the team with the lowest combined stroke-play scores. Scott's partner is No. 18 Jason Day, and they're the favorites.
The other top contender for the individual prize is American Matt Kuchar, who finished second last week to Scott in the Australian Masters. The world's seventh-ranked player, who teamed last year with Gary Woodland to win the World Cup of Golf, knows the tournament and crowd favorite will be tough. "He has been in such good form," Kuchar said of Scott.
"To at least give him a run (in last week's Australian Masters) it was awfully good. I stood five back going into Sunday," added Kuchar, whose American counterpart this year is Kevin Streelman. "Unfortunately I got a bad break on 18 and that's part of golf."
"It's an interesting week," Scott said of the format change, which will be used for the 2016 Rio Olympics when golf returns to the quadrennial Summer Games after a century-plus absence. "We're playing together as a team but we still want to beat each other."
"I don't know whether to love him or not if he beats me," countered Day.
"I know the format is different but the golf is the same," said Kuchar of the format. "It's much more of an individual event . . . but there is a team component and I think we have got as good a shot as anybody."
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is in Australia for the World Cup of Golf. On Wednesday he answered questions about the move away from the team concept. "I think it is way too soon to conclude that the team portion of the Cup is lost," Finchem said.
"We haven't played yet so let's see how that plays out and then we will see. We feel like the tournament is more marketable. We think that it has a better chance of fulfilling its mission which is to create more interest in the game in unique ways.
"But we will see. If we go down this road and it doesn't work, we will adjust, but we are going to give this every chance to work."
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell team partner is Ireland's Shane Lowry. McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, recognizes the wonderful talent of Scott, which is finally bearing fruit. "From Scotty's point of view, he is just one of those guys you play with and you think to yourself 'Why does this guy not win every week?' " McDowell said. "He's that impressive."
Scott would love to prove the experts right. "I think it is just one of those things that you want to achieve in golf," he said of the Cup. "It is a different format this year, but still it is going on the same trophy as Kel (Nagle) and Peter (Thompson) and it is a nice little feather in the cap to say, 'I had won the World Cup with Jason.'
"It is going to be something that can be remembered in future years."
Day concurs, noting, "With all the history behind this event and, to put your name on the trophy at the end of the week, would be great."