The teams for the inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi were announced on Monday, with Tommy Fleetwood set to captain the Britain and Ireland side up against a Continental Europe led by Francesco Molinari.
European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald was primarily responsible for selecting the 18 players to compete in the new team event, to be held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 13-15, and the line-ups comprise a mix of experienced Ryder Cup players, exciting young talents, and major champions.
In consultation with Fleetwood and Molinari, who will both compete as playing captains, Donald confirmed that one position for each team will remain open and will be allocated at the conclusion of the DP World Tour calendar year.
Among the Continental Europe team are Sweden’s Alex Noren and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, both with Ryder Cup experience, while the latter competes one week before he defends his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title at Yas Links.
Also part of Molinari's team are Austrian Sepp Straka, who won his maiden PGA Tour title at The Honda Classic this year, three-time DP World Tour winner Rasmus Hojgaard, and two-time winner Victor Perez and Adrian Meronk, who became the first Polish player to win on the DP World Tour when he claimed the 2022 Horizon Irish Open.
Belgium’s Thomas Detry has also enjoyed a strong start to his rookie PGA Tour season, finishing in the top-12 in three of the five events played – including a runner-up at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship – and has six top-15 finishes on the DP World Tour. He is joined by three-time DP World Tour winner Guido Migliozzi, who claimed the biggest victory of his career in September at the Cazoo Open de France.
The Britain and Ireland team, led by two-time Ryder Cup player Fleetwood, boasts 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry, and four-time Rolex Series winner Tyrrell Hatton among its ranks.
They will be joined by a stream of Ryder Cup hopefuls including Irishman Seamus Power, who has enjoyed a stunning start to the 2023 PGA Tour season and currently leads the FedEx Cup Standings, and DP World Tour winners Ewen Ferguson, Robert MacIntyre, Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith and Matt Wallace.
“Having worked closely with Tommy and Fran on building the two teams, I’m delighted with the mix of players who will be on show at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in January,” Donald said.
“We all thought it was important to combine experience and youthfulness and I think we have found that balance with a mixture of major champions and Ryder Cup players, alongside guys who are hoping to secure a spot in Rome next year.”
Molinari, the 2018 Open champion, said: “Our team is packed full of exciting players who all have the attributes to excel in a match play contest and I’m excited to lead them into the Hero Cup next year.
“Some of our younger players have already shown incredible maturity in high-pressured situations and proved they can perform in big moments, so giving them the opportunity to compete on this stage alongside the likes of Alex Noren and Thomas Pieters will be really important at the beginning of what could be a big year for them.”
Fleetwood, who combined with Molinari to collect four points from four matches at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France, said: “I am really pleased with the players who will form the Britain and Ireland team next year.
“Having the experience of Shane and Tyrrell will be invaluable for the rest of the team in a match play environment but I think we are really strong throughout the team. We have proven winners in some of the biggest DP World Tour events and it will be great to have Séámus with us following his excellent start to the season in America.”