Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell aim for World Cup glory

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell during Wednesday's practice round at Mission Hills in China

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell hope to go one better than two years ago when they compete for Ireland at this week's World Cup in China.

The Irish duo were pipped by one shot by Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari at the last staging of the event in China two years ago.

Justin Rose and Ian Poulter will be in action for England at Mission Hills.

Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher compete for Scotland with Rhys Davies and Jamie Donaldson playing for Wales.

McIlroy and McDowell led by three shots with 11 holes to play two years ago before being reeled in by the inspired Italian duo.

However, McDowell and McIlroy have both won the US Open since the last playing of the World Cup and the Irish duo will be among the favourites two years on.

"I guess you could say I've got myself a decent partner," joked McDowell.

"He's in great form and the world number two.

"You have to be able to motivate and inspire each other and enjoy the experience of being in contention and under pressure, and hopefully enjoy the experience of winning together.

"There's nothing quite like that team atmosphere in golf.

"It's a very individual sport and very few times do we get the opportunity to play as a team.

"Winning individually is nice, but winning as a team is something extra special.

"Hopefully we can use our experiences of the last couple of years to good effect."

McIlroy believes that approach play is going to determine this week's event.

"The key to this golf course is all about the second shots," said the current US Open champion.

"Most of the teams are going to find it relatively simple to hit it into the fairway and from there the course gets a lot more challenging.

"If you don't get the ball on the right level on the greens it's going to be very difficult.

"Maybe the scoring at this course might not be as low as it was in Shenzhen."

The event - now biennial after being staged every year from 1987 to 2009 - features 28 teams, with fourballs on the first and third days and foursomes for the second and fourth rounds.

South Africa also have a pair of major winners in Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen while the USA will be represented by debutants Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.

Ireland's last World Cup winners were Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley in 1997.

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