Golf Australia

Fowler in as Watson out of World Cup

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler loved pulling on the red, white and blue in Rio and can't wait to do it again in Melbourne. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Out Bubba Watson, in Rickie Fowler.

That’s the chief wash-up of some player changes for the World Cup of Golf today.

Tournament officials announced Olympian Fowler would replace Watson as the top player to represent the United States at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath from November 23-27.

Fowler quickly chose US PGA champion Jimmy Walker to be his partner in the two-man team competition.

Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo also withdrew and, after Andres Romero chose not to commit, Argentina’s place was taken by brilliant young Taiwanese golfer C.T. Pan.

Top-ranked New Zealander Danny Lee confirmed his selection of Olympic teammate Ryan Fox as his partner for the 58th edition of the World Cup.

Watson had been keen to play on the US team and play in Australia, but changed his mind because of scheduling and personal reasons.

“It was a very difficult choice not to play in the World Cup of Golf. I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to represent my country and to play in Australia, a place where I have always enjoyed playing golf,” Watson said.

“Rickie and Jimmy will do a great job as a team and I wish them the best.”

Fowler and Walker will both be playing in the World Cup of Golf for the first time. Fowler, a three-time champion on the PGA TOUR has also won events on the European and Asian Tours.

He begins the FedExCup Playoffs this week at No.28 in the standings with seven top-10 finishes, a season after his win at The Players Championship and later at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also won the European Tour’s Scottish Open in 2015.

Walker and Fowler were paired together twice at last year’s Presidents Cup, most notably winning over Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee 5-and-4.

“Coming off the amazing experience that I had at the Olympics, it’s great to have the chance to put on the red, white and blue again and play for the United States in the World Cup of Golf,” Fowler said.

“Jimmy is not only one of my favourite guys out here on tour, but he is clearly one of the most talented players as well. I think we’ll make a fantastic team and our strengths will work well together. I’ve heard great things about Kingston Heath and can’t wait to get to Australia.”

All of Walker’s six PGA TOUR victories have come in the last three seasons after playing seven seasons on TOUR without a win.

The top players from the 28 qualifying countries committed to the event on August 16 and have until August 26 to choose their playing partners.

Already, the field for the World Cup of Golf in 2016 has a number of golf’s biggest names joining Fowler and Walker including defending champions Jason Day and Adam Scott, England’s Danny Willett and Lee Westwood and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

The 2016 tournament will return to a 72-hole, stroke play, two-man team event format.  The first and third days of competition will be the foursomes (alternate shot) format and the second and final days are fourball (best ball) play.

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