In just a couple of months, golf fans will be treated to a new Ryder Cup-style team match play event pitting European Ryder Cup members against each other, and now we know who will captain the two teams in the debut edition.
Earlier this year, the DP World Tour announced the creation of the Hero Cup, a new biennial competition between the best male pro golfers from Great Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe. And on Wednesday, the tour revealed the two pros who will take the mantle as playing captains: Tommy Fleetwood for Team GB & I and Francesco Molinari for Team Europe.
In a statement from the DP World Tour, European Ryder Cup Director and DP World Tour Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer Guy Kinnings said: “I am delighted to confirm Tommy and Fran as Captains for the Hero Cup – they will unquestionably bring so much to the role.”
The release also revealed the format for the event and the way in which each team will be created.
Unlike at the Ryder and Presidents Cups, where teams feature a mix of auto-qualifiers and captain’s picks, Fleetwood and Molinari will get to pick their entire rosters at the Hero Cup, with each team consisting of 10 players, the playing captains included.
The 20 competitors will compete across three sessions — one fourball, one foursomes and one singles session — and all 20 will play each session. European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald will preside over the event as a whole.
Fleetwood and Molinari are perhaps best known for their 2018 Ryder Cup partnership, affectionately branded as “Moliwood,” in which they went 4-0 playing alongside each other to help Team Europe to a 17.5-10.5 rout of the Americans at Le Golf National in France.
Fleetwood touched on that relationship in the press release, saying, “Fran and I obviously get on very well so I am sure it will feel a little strange at first being opposing Captains, but I think the Hero Cup is a fantastic way for players to compete in team match play, which is something both of us have always relished.”
Molinari was also quoted in the announcement, noting the important role the Hero Cup can play in benefitting the European Ryder Cup team, just as the Presidents Cup has helped the U.S. team.
“The Hero Cup is a great idea and will be a very good way for European players to get some more experience of playing in team match play. I definitely felt like it benefited me when I played in similar events in the past,” Molinari said. “Hopefully as Captains, Tommy and I can bring some of our own experience of team golf to help the other players and we are looking forward to working with Luke on this exciting new concept ahead of a big year for European golf with the Ryder Cup taking place in my home country.”
The inaugural Hero Cup will take place January 13-15 2023 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.