'Sorry' the hardest word for Rose and Poulter
Peter Simpson at Mission Hills
The English might be polite to the point of being overly servile to each other on civvy street - but when it comes to etiquette on a tough golf course, there's little point in saying 'sorry'. Instead, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter - who make up Team England at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup - will rely on a little rudeness to spur each other on today.
'Sorry is not a great word and not one we'll be using this week. Probably 'What the hell are you doing?' will be more along the lines,' said Rose, the highest-ranked player - at number eight - in the US$5 million event.
'We had a little discussion,' said Poulter. 'Neither of us is going to be trying to hit a bad shot - and if you do, there's no need to say sorry. You've just to get on with it and hope your partner can get you out of trouble.'
The firm friends are hoping to strike out from the other 27 international pairs with a clear aim to take the World Cup back to that other land of mythical dragons since compatriots Paul Casey and Luke Donald victoriously wielded their clubs for St George in the 2004 tournament.
Both Rose and Poulter are riding high. Rose, 27, clinched the European Tour Order Of Merit with his win in the Volvo Masters two weeks ago, while Poulter, 31, won the Phoenix Open in Japan last Sunday.
Though of different character - the flamboyant Poulter is fashion conscious while Rose is modesty personified - the pair first combined as roommates on the European Challenge Tour eight years ago and have since become regulars in the world's top 50 ranking.
Rose singled out the Danish duo of Soren Hansen and Anders Hansen and South Africa's Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman - both former winners with different partners - as their main rivals for this week's tournament, which is variously branded as the 'Olympics of Golf' or merely a grandiose rebranding exercise of its former Canada Cup mantle.
The tournament is being played at the Olazabal course at Mission Hills Golf Club - the largest golf complex in the world with 12 courses.
'The course is a little bit tricky and I think we can score [here]. I am very happy to go out there and have a big week,' said Poulter.
Today signals the start of the inaugural Omega World Cup, and the tournament will be played at Mission Hills for the next 12 years.
Though some of the big names are missing from the line-up, Mission Hills founder David Chiu said the competition would help the sport's popularity 'snowball in China' - and hopefully one year soon, attract the likes of Tiger Woods back to the mainland.