MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Matt Kuchar will hope to end a globe-trotting month with a second World Cup of Golf title in Melbourne on Sunday as he spearheads a low-profile United States team at the $7 million tournament.
The eight-times PGA winner, who paired up with Gary Woodland to claim the 2011 tournament in south China, will partner Kyle Stanley at the biennial event against 27 other two-man teams.
Starting the month at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, Kuchar picked up a drought-breaking win at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico before warming up for the World Cup with a share of 23rd at the Australian Open in Sydney.
While most of his compatriots rest up for the Thanksgiving holiday, Kuchar will instead tee off with Stanley against a solid Australian team featuring Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
Kuchar felt energetic enough to have a hit of tennis with his family earlier in the week at Melbourne Park, the venue of the Australian Open grand slam, and shrugged off any notion of fatigue.
“This is week four in a row, but that’s not atypical for me,” the 40-year-old told reporters after playing the pro-am on Wednesday.
“It’s been a fun travel, taken me to some great places.
“And I think when you’re excited to be somewhere, you’ve got tons of energy.”
The tournament boasts an honour roll of winners including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods from its previous 58 editions but has struggled for relevance in an increasingly crowded international calendar.
World number 21 Leishman is the highest ranked player in a modest field at Metropolitan this year.
However, England duo Ian Poulter and Tyrell Hatton promise to bring a sprinkling of Ryder Cup passion nearly two months after crushing the United States in France as part of team Europe.
“We played the Ryder Cup only a few weeks ago,” said Poulter, a huge fan of Melbourne’s Sandbelt courses.
“Not that we were paired together, but obviously team events don’t happen enough ... and it’s great to go out and play in this format.”
England will tee off against Denmark’s title-defending duo Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen, who won at nearby Kingston Heath Golf Club in 2016.
Teams play four-ball for the first and third days of the 72-hole strokeplay event, with foursomes on the second and final days.
Weather conditions are likely to test the players’ patience, with a thunder storm forecast for early in Thursday’s opening round, and showers to continue into the weekend.
World number 30 Stanley, who will be looking to land a 25th World Cup title for the United States, said he would have no problem with that.
“I know we’ve got a little weather coming in, but I live in Seattle, so that’s no big deal for me,” he said.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney