World Cup of Golf stars ready for Melbourne's big wet
ORGANISERS of the World Cup of Golf have pre-empted a potential round-one downpour by moving tee times forward in a bid to beat the weather.
The ominous forecast for Thursday's opening day dominated talk at Metropolitan the day before the event and narrowed pre-event focus to navigating wet and wild conditions for the prestigious $9.6 million tournament.
Any perceived advantage for Aussie duo Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith were washed away when organisers took the step of moving tee times forward by one hour.
Englishman Ian Poulter, however, a winner on the sandbelt at the 2011 Australian Masters at Victoria, wasn't deterred by the gloomy outlook, declaring he had packed and prepared for a Melbourne spring.
Poulter, who with teammate Tyrrell Hatton remains second favourite to topple Australia, said the forecast only enhanced the need to do his job "properly".
"I mean, obviously I brought my waterproofs. When you come to Melbourne, you understand what can happen with the weather. Every 20 minutes it can change," Poulter said after playing the pro-am in glorious sunshine.
"Obviously we're going to get some rain tomorrow. It doesn't really change the game plan.
"We need to do the right thing, we need to play smart. It's a tricky course.
"If we get the 20 or 30 mile an hour winds that I've seen forecast, then that's going to make this golf course play exceptionally tough. So we need to do our job properly."
American Matt Kuchar, who has jumped over his teammate Kyle Stanley in the world rankings on the back of three weeks of solid work, including a victory in Mexico, couldn't wipe the smile from his face either despite the forecast.
The World Cup is his fourth straight week on the road, after Las Vegas, Mexico and last week in Sydney.
But he freshened up with a family hit of tennis on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, which gave him a "real buzz", and said adapting to all conditions was part of his job.
"We're talking about a bunch of professional golfers that are pretty good at adapting. We come pretty used to preparing for anything," Kuchar said.
"We deal a lot with weather wherever we go. The Tour does tend to chase good weather, but it's multiple times a year we face delays, we face cold weather. You have to be adaptable.
"To be a professional golfer, you've got to be adaptable and I think all of us here will do a pretty good job of it."
As one of golf's greatest patriots, Poulter, who played a lead role in Europe's Ryder Cup win in September, put his hand up to play for his country again, in a golfing enclave he loves.
He reached out to the higher-ranked Hatton to get a World Cup start and while not talking up his recent team's experience as an advantage, he said it definitely wouldn't hurt.
"Team events don't happen enough, as I said earlier, and it's great to be able to go out and play in this format," he said.
"Foursomes is difficult and it's a format we don't play very often. I guess we were fortunate enough to obviously play that a couple of months ago.
"Some of the other teams won't have experienced foursomes for a long time, but you still need to golf your ball pretty well."
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