The race to qualify for the 2016 European Ryder Cup team begins this week as David Horsey defends the M2M Russian Open at Skolkovo Golf Club in Moscow.

Lowdown:
The European Tour travels to Russia this week for the first counting event in the race to qualify for the 2016 Ryder Cup. David Horsey is defending champion in the M2M Russian Open.

This event provides a great chance for those European players in the field to gain a head start on their rivals in the race to earn a place on Darren Clarke’s team for next year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

David Horsey will start amongst the favourites. He won this event last year and comes into this year’s tournament with confidence following his recent victory in the Made in Denmark.

Former Ryder Cup players Soren Hansen and Edoardo Molinari will tee it up this week, as will past winner Michael Hoey and former tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

This will be the ninth time the Russian Open has appeared as a fixture on the European Tour schedule. Marcus Fraser was the winner of the first instalment in 2003. Since then Gary Emerson, Mikael Lundberg (twice,) Alejandro Canizares, Per-Ulrik Johansson and Michael Hoey have been champions.

Last year David Horsey recovered from a back-nine blip to tie Damien McGrane after 72 holes. The Englishman then beat the Irish golfer at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

There’s a new venue for this year’s tournament. The course at Skolkovo Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus signature design located close to the centre of Moscow. It’s a parkland style layout featuring six large lakes and 113 well-placed bunkers.

The weather forecast for the week looks mostly settled with a chance of showers on Friday.

Venue: Skolkovo Golf Club, Moscow, Russia
Date: Sep 3-6
Course stats: par 71, 7,025 yards
Purse: €1,000,000
Defending Champion: David Horsey (-13)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Friday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Saturday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Sunday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm

Player watch:

Robert Dinwiddie – Playing on a medical extension, Dinwiddie has been on great form of late. He was tied 10th in the European Masters, tied 11th in the Made in Denmark and then fourth last week in the Czech Masters.

Damien McGrane – He lost in a playoff for this event last year and he comes into this week’s tournament on the back of a good result in the Czech Republic – a tie for eighth.

Michael Hoey – Winner of this event in 2013, Hoey is recognised as one of the most talented players on the European Tour, and someone who maybe should have enjoyed even more success than he has. He’s been on solid form this year but has only two top-10 finishes to his name in 2015. He’ll be looking to ramp things up as the season reaches its climax.

Key hole: 18th. This is a classic Jack Nicklaus par-5 finishing hole with water a threat on both drive and approach. A creek linking two lakes waits on the left side off the tee and a cleverly placed bunker on the right side of the fairway 280 yards out forces players towards it. On the approach the player will have to decide how ambitious they are feeling. To reach the green requires a bold shot across the water, the further right a player aims, the shorter the carry. This hole will almost certainly produce some drama at the end of the week.

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