International stars team with rising countrymen in Zurich Classic

International stars team with rising countrymen in Zurich Classic
Zurich Classic tees up on April 25th in Avondale.

Two veteran international players have teamed with rising countrymen to compete in the 2019 Zurich Classic, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.

Ian Poulter, a European Ryder Cup stalwart with a lifetime 14-6-2 record, is teaming with Sam Horsfield, who is playing just his second year on the European Tour. South African veteran Branden Grace is pairing with Justin Harding, who currently stands third in European Tour standings and has rocketed his world ranking from 716th to 48th since January 2018.

“Ian Poulter is one of the most successful European players in Ryder Cup history,” said Worthy. “His partner Sam Horsfield enjoyed a successful rookie season on the European Tour last year, and we look forward to his debut here this year,” added Worthy.

“Likewise, we welcome the team of Branden Grace and Justin Harding, who has risen dramatically in world rankings and will be playing his first regular season PGA TOUR event in our tournament,” said Worthy.

In six Ryder Cup competitions, Poulter is 5-0-1 in singles and contributed to the European team victory in last year’s competition with a 2-2 record as a captain’s pick. In 2012, he went 4-0 in leading the European team to its second consecutive victory. He served as vice-captain of the 2016 European team.

Poulter has won three times on the PGA TOUR, most recently in last season’s Houston Open, to go with two World Golf Championship titles. He also has claimed 12 international victories, including the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship.

His best finishes this season on the PGA TOUR have been a tie for third in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Classic and a tie for tenth in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. He is currently ranked 33rd in the world.

In addition to his six Ryder Cup appearances, he has also played on six World Cup teams, three Seve Trophy squads and competed in the 2016 Eurasia Cup.

He finished tied for 22nd in last year’s Zurich Classic, partnered with Graeme McDowell. Poulter’s best individual finish at the Zurich Classic was a tie for seventh in 2006.

His teammate Horsfield played collegiately at University of Florida, where he won three tournaments as a freshman in 2015. He turned pro in 2017 and won the final stage of European Tour qualifying by eight shots to earn his card for 2018.

He enjoyed a successful rookie season on the European Tour, recording three top fives and six top tens, including a runner-up finish at the Tshwane Open and a tie for fifth in the Sky Sports British Masters.

In his only start on the PGA TOUR this season, Horsfield tied for 33rd in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. In 2018, he tied for 14th in the same tournament.

Branden Grace has played as a member of the PGA TOUR since 2016 after earning special temporary membership during the previous season with a top-125 finish in FedExCup points as a non-member. In his first full season as a member of the PGA TOUR, he won the 2016 RBC Heritage Classic. He has also claimed 11 international victories, including four in 2012 alone.

In the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, he shot an eight-under 62 in the third round, the lowest score ever recorded in a major championship.

Playing with fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen, Grace tied for 24th in the 2017 Zurich Classic, his first appearance in the tournament. He is currently ranked 43rd in the world. His best finish this season in the U.S. has been a tie for second in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Grace has played on three International Presidents Cup teams and went undefeated over four matches in the 2015 competition.

Harding won his first European Tour title in March, his fifth victory in the last 12 months worldwide. He also claimed two Asian Tour victories and two Sunshine Tour triumphs in July 2018 and May 2018, respectively. In addition to his win, he has a fourth and a tie for second on the European Tour this season, vaulting him to third place in the Race to Dubai standings. He tied for 17th in this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

As recently as January, 2018, his world ranking was 716. He didn’t break into the top 100 in the world until last September. At his current position of 48th, he is qualified for the Masters next week.

Zurich Classic contributed to this story.

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