Americans look for Ryder revenge in China

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iol spt july6 Mickelson

REUTERS

Phil Mickelson.

China - America's top golfers will seek revenge for their demoralising Ryder Cup defeat when they resume battle with the bulk of the European team at this week's glittering WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

Sixteen Ryder Cup players are in action at sprawling Mission Hills for the $7 million event, one of Asia's richest and the last of four World Golf Championships this year, featuring the cream of the globe's various tours.

With no Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods, the world's top two who played a lucrative exhibition in front of unruly crowds at China's Jinsha Lake this week, attention will be fixed firmly on this season's unfinished business.

Justin Rose is among a small group of players still capable of snatching the European merit title from McIlroy but for the American stars it's all about pride after their Ryder Cup nightmare at Medinah.

Phil Mickelson said America's loss was one of the worst moments of his career, while Keegan Bradley said a win by an American player - on a course designed by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal - would boost morale.

“I saw some of the guys (team-mates) in the airport yesterday, and it made me happy just to see the guys,” said Bradley, winner of last year's PGA Championship.

“I think (an American win) would be great - a win here any time is amazing, and I think that it would help all of the Americans and especially myself.”

Reigning US Masters and British Open champions Bubba Watson and Ernie Els are among 15 Major-winners in the field, which features seven of the world's top 10.

And with damp conditions forecast at the 12-course Mission Hills complex, not far from the Hong Kong border, players are predicting low scores on the Olazabal layout, despite its prodigious 7 300-yard length.

“I wouldn't be surprised to see someone go and shoot 10-under-par this week,” said Ian Poulter, a hero of Europe's win in Chicago, when they came from four points behind on the last day.

“It's that type of golf course... you're going to see guys being very aggressive and it wouldn't surprise me to see a couple of guys make two eagles on the (par) fives.

“When you get that on this type of golf course, guys only need to roll a few more putts in and you have that 10-under-par number.”

England's Rose and Peter Hanson of Sweden can both seize a chance to hamper McIlroy's pursuit of a PGA and European Tour money list double, while Luke Donald - who achieved the feat last year - is also just in the running for the European crown.

“This is a big week,” said Rose. “The goal this week really is to give myself a chance going into (the season finale at) Dubai... I have to win this week to give myself that chance.”

Donald said: “Week-in, week-out we play long golf courses. I'm not one of the longest hitters, but I believe that I do a lot of my talking on the golf course with my short game.

“I'm always very good around the greens, and usually the guy who putts the best is the guy who wins. That's how I approach most courses.”

Sapa-AFP


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