Abu Dhabi GC returns to our screens when it hosts the Hero Cup
Abu Dhabi GC returns to our screens when it hosts the Hero Cup

Hero Cup line-ups, format, course, start time and TV info

Ben Coley profiles the 20 players set to take part in the inaugural Hero Cup, as Ryder Cup preparations begin in earnest.

Golf betting tips: Hero Cup

2pts Thomas Detry top European at 7/1 (bet365)

1pt Detry top overall scorer at 16/1 (BoyleSports)

1pt Richard Mansell top GB & Ireland at 16/1 (Sky Bet)

1pt Mansell top overall scorer at 33/1 (Sky Bet, William Hill)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

What is the Hero Cup?

The Hero Cup is a new team event on the DP World Tour. It takes place for the first time in 2023 after Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald encouraged the return of a team match play contest for would-be Ryder Cup players.

There are two teams of 10, with Great Britain and Ireland taking on Continental Europe. Both teams have playing captains in Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari.

When does it take place?

A three-day event, the Hero Cup is scheduled to take place from Friday January 13 to Sunday 15. It is live on Sky Sports Golf in the UK.

Where is it being played?

Abu Dhabi Golf Club is the host venue for the inaugural edition. The course staged the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship from its inception in 2006 through to 2021, before that event moved to nearby Yas Links ahead of the 2022 edition.

Abu Dhabi GC is a long, modern, desert-style par 72 which ends with a par-five played over water. GB & Ire captain Tommy Fleetwood is a two-time course winner, with Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton also victorious there.


What is the format for the Hero Cup?

After some confusion, the format was confirmed to Sporting Life on Tuesday of tournament week. It is as follows:


  • 5 fourball matches (1105 local time)


  • 10 foursomes matches split across two sessions (0735 and 1220)


  • 10 singles matches (1035)

A total of 25 points are on offer meaning 13 are required to win the event. Every player will take part in each session.

Who is playing in the Hero Cup?

Great Britain & Ireland

Tommy Fleetwood (capt)

GB&I are captained by Tommy Fleetwood, who ended last year playing his best golf since 2019. Victory in the Nedbank Challenge rewarded a fine run featuring two major top-fives and he also played well in the DP World Tour Championship. Fleetwood boasts impressive course credentials having won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2017 and successfully defended his title a year later.

Shane Lowry

Like Fleetwood, Shane Lowry is a past winner at the course, having opened with a 62 before a narrow victory in 2019, one which paved the way for his Open triumph later in the year. Also fourth on debut, his other five appearances returned missed cuts. Lowry ended 2022 a little below his best but captured the BMW PGA in September to add another big title to his CV.

Tyrrell Hatton

Always in the mix before winning here in 2021, fending off Rory McIlroy in the final round, Tyrrell Hatton is another course winner for the favourites. Generally strong in the desert having played well at Yas Links last year and in Dubai on several occasions, he signed off 2022 with a welcome second place in the DP World Tour Championship, and has played in the last two Ryder Cups.

Seamus Power

One of the most improved golfers in the sport since 2020, Seamus Power will fly in from Hawaii, where he took part in the Tournament of Champions. Until now the only DP World Tour event he's played in is the Irish Open, and with little success, but he's a different beast nowadays and appears committed to making the Ryder Cup side. This will be a great chance to impress.

Robert MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre was on the radar for the 2021 Ryder Cup before struggling at the wrong time, but will be expected to put that right this year having won the Italian Open at the course which hosts the event in September. That victory over world-class opposition was an important and some might say overdue step up the ladder for an aggressive, popular player who looks made for team golf. Has some course experience and played well for 16th on his last visit.

Jordan Smith

A record-breaking winner of the Portugal Masters, Jordan Smith's second DP World Tour victory had been five years in the making and should serve as the platform for bigger and better things. Long established as one of the best ball-strikers on the circuit, he led the field in putting in Portugal and he's always going to be a formidable opponent if doing anything like that. Five cuts made from five starts here and has shown an encouraging liking for the greens.

Matt Wallace

Well down the pecking order now having felt aggrieved not to make the European team for Paris, Matt Wallace will be hoping that a return to the desert provides a turnaround in fortunes. He's been poor since finishing second in Switzerland in August, signing off the year with a trio of missed cuts, but has always looked a nice type for team golf and is another with some good course experience. Still looks a potential weak link unless the Christmas break has done him some good.

Richard Mansell

Last year saw Richard Mansell continue his steady, promising climb through the DP World Tour ranks, and he'll feel he ought to have won the Dunhill Links when leading by four heading into Sunday. As with everything he's done since 2020, that experience should help and this fine driver of a ball seems sure to have more chances in the coming months. He's lacking experience of Abu Dhabi GC but spent Christmas in the Middle East and says his big goal for the year is to make the Ryder Cup team.

Callum Shinkwin

Twice a winner since 2020, Callum Shinkwin is fulfilling long-held potential having been a really promising amateur and quickly confirmed himself to be a fabulous ball-striker at pro level. Injuries and issues on the greens have held him back but there was a likeable consistency to his play in 2022 so he's a prime candidate to kick on. Record here isn't much to write home about on the face of it but has stacks of Middle East experience and a round of 65 at the course to his name, and could be a great partner for someone.

Ewen Ferguson

One of the real success stories of 2022, Ewen Ferguson captured titles in Qatar and Northern Ireland and was unfortunate not to add another in Denmark, before two top-10s in his final three starts ensured he signed off on a high. He should enjoy returning to the Middle East and won't mind if the wind blows, so look for him to form a good partnership with compatriot Robert MacIntyre at some stage.


Continental Europe

Francesco Molinari (capt)

It's a sign of how far he fell and how fast that having gone a record 5-0-0 in Paris, Francesco Molinari was nowhere near making the side three years later. He'll of course be determined to put that right given that this year's renewal takes place in Italy, and there were some good signs from summer onwards last year, but improvement is needed. He has a decent course record but hasn't played the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship here since 2013.

Alex Noren

On the fringes of the side in 2021, Alex Noren ultimately suffered the same fate as Molinari in missing out on selection, after a fine debut in Paris. He's since maintained a high level of form on the both tours and has four top-fives to his name since July, when he gave up a spot in the Open to play in the Barracuda Championship. Second there and again on his final start of the year, this time in Dubai, he's right back to his best and looks a key man for Europe.

Thomas Pieters

No doubt Thomas Pieters will have been especially pleased to see this event added to the schedule, as it means he can prepare for next week's title defence at Yas Links having been off since October due to the birth of his second child. He's been operating at a very high level for two years now and all things being equal should return to the Ryder Cup side for the first time since a sparkling debut at Hazeltine in 2016. Rust is a possibility but he's got course form and if Europe are to win, he probably needs to play well.

Thomas Detry

Still considered the best maiden on the DP World Tour and with good reason, Thomas Detry might need to put that right if he's to make his Ryder Cup debut in September. He's certainly improved for partnering with caddie JP Fitzgerald, formerly on the bag of Rory McIlroy, and was bullish about his future whenever he spoke about it late last year, during a run of excellent results. Does have a World Cup win to his name and a reprisal of his partnership with Pieters is a certainty here.

Victor Perez

Arguably unfortunate to miss the 2021 Ryder Cup after his progress was halted by the pandemic, Victor Perez got things moving in the right direction again when producing that stunning Dutch Open win last spring. Though a shade disappointing since then, he played plenty of solid golf and the pick of it came at Marco Simone in Rome, which is no bad thing. Runner-up here in 2020 after a closing 63.

Sepp Straka

In the expected absence of Bernd Wiesberger, Sepp Straka will hope to become the second Austrian to play Ryder Cup golf. Like Seamus Power, he's so far been dedicated to the PGA Tour and has climbed to the fringes of the world's elite thanks to a win in the Honda Classic and a near-miss in the FedEx St Jude Championship, before ending last year with 10th in the Bahamas. In-and-out but a class act on his day and he too arrives from Hawaii.

Nicolai Hojgaard

A late call-up for his injured brother, Rasmus, this is a golden opportunity for Nicolai Hojgaard to breathe new life into his Ryder Cup bid. A winner at the host course in 2021, he added a second title last February here in the Middle East, but has just flattered to deceive a little since. While less solid than Rasmus his prodigious length gives the European side an x-factor and he signed off last year showing signs of encouragement.

Guido Migliozzi

The reason Rasmus Hojgaard didn't win last year is partly because Guido Migliozzi produced one of the rounds and one of the shots of the season to pip him in Paris. Not for the first time, the Italian demonstrated a big-time mentality which would bode well for his prospects of shining in a home Ryder Cup, but he will need to find some consistency to come under genuine consideration. More so than most he could just need to make a big impression this week.

Adrian Meronk

A fabulous winner of the Irish and Australian Opens last year, Adrian Meronk is a prime candidate to keep climbing into that Ryder Cup side. The fact he went close to winning the Italian Open at the host course in 2021 is a positive and he's turned plenty of heads throughout the past 18 months, not least because of the way he drives the ball. Has picked up some valuable experience playing alongside the best in Europe, too, and his game is made not just for Abu Dhabi, but for Marco Simone.

Antoine Rozner

There was one slot kept back for the end of the year and Antoine Rozner grabbed it with his dominant win in Mauritius. It had been coming, the Frenchman having been one of the best ball-strikers around for much of the previous four months, and with three DP World Tour titles to his name he's a class act. Taking the next step up is now the challenge but a fine Middle East record, which includes a win in Qatar, has to bode well.

Who will win the Hero Cup?

Most things appear to be in favour of the GB & Ireland team, who look worthy favourites and probably deserve to be a bit shorter than 5/6.

For starters, the three best players (and arguably the fourth in Seamus Power) taking part will turn out for GB&I. Of the next wave, Sepp Straka is seriously lacking in Middle East experience and the key players on the European side are Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren, one of whom has been absent since the very start of October.

It's true that two Europeans won at the very end of 2022, namely Antoine Rozner and Adrian Meronk, but the best form here comes from Tommy Fleetwood's Nedbank victory, and it's not long ago that Shane Lowry was winning at Wentworth.

The other potential factor to consider is that three of their 10 players have won at this course, four times in total given Fleetwood's double, although it's fair to point out that the Europeans have fewer course debutants – one (Straka) to GB&I's three (Power, Ferguson, Mansell).

On balance there's no real temptation to be getting involved in the outcome of an event which will have a start-of-term feel to it, with various players putting new equipment in their bags and a potential lack of intensity across the board, but the vote has to go to Fleetwood and co.

Sporting Life golf tipster Ben Coley has had another incredible year

What are the best bets?

With such confusion as to the format, the DP World Tour again slow off the mark when it comes to providing the basic information required to form opinions, this is a tournament which has been off-putting from a betting perspective from its announcement in September.

That remains the case to a large degree, but it's a little surprising that the top points scorer odds haven't yet been pinched slightly to reflect the fact that every player will take part in every session. That removes one of the big unknowns of a Ryder Cup, where odds are based not just on ability but on likely number of scoring opportunities.

Now that we know the playing field is level, my inclination would be towards a couple of outsiders in the top GB & Ireland market, RICHARD MANSELL and Callum Shinkwin. Mansell looks overpriced anyway on sheer ability and the course will be a great fit. He's spent winter in Dubai and I don't think he should be behind Shinkwin, Ewen Ferguson and Matt Wallace in the market.

Shinkwin is slightly less appealing but he does have some good rounds to his name here and really came of age in 2022, finding consistency at last albeit ending the year somewhat out of sorts. It's possible he plays with Mansell and they would be a formidable if inexperienced pairing if sent out together on Friday, as two of the very best ball-strikers in the competition, but I'll avoid such guesswork and stick with Mansell to small stakes.

The European market is much more compact and I'd be inclined towards THOMAS DETRY and Antoine Rozner at the prices.

Detry will surely play alongside Thomas Pieters, with whom he won the 2018 World Cup, and this format will bring out the best in him. There's a slight concern as to how ready Pieters is having taken time off for the birth of his second child but he's always gone well fresh, as he showed in Abu Dhabi last year.

They are the one European pairing with experience together, both are proven at this course, in their own ways they enjoyed career-best campaigns in 2022, and Pieters will surely be desperate to give his friend a Ryder Cup boost if he can. They're the standout combination for Europe and key to their chances of success.

Rozner on the other hand played late into December, winning in Mauritius, and like Mansell earned a late Hero Cup call-up. Another quality driver, he'll be a fine partner for anybody on Friday, with Victor Perez the obvious option not just because they're both French, but because their games are similar. They could do some damage but on balance Detry has to get the vote.

Selections posted at 1045 GMT on 10/01/23

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