The inaugural Hero Cup starts in the Middle East on Friday morning and European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is hoping the event provides excellent practice for September's match against the United States.
The Ryder Cup is the biggest team competition in golf - and one of the biggest in sport in general - and the Hero Cup knows its place as the support act.
Donald and other DP World Tour bigwigs decided that Team Europe needed some team matchplay practice before meeting the Americans at the Marco Simone Golf Club in the autumn.
|What||Hero Cup, DP World Tour|
|Where||Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|When||07:05, Friday, January 12th, 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Golf and bet365's Live Golf Tracker|
|Odds||GB & Ireland 10/13, Tie 12/1, Continental Europe 6/5|
The Hero Cup will provide approximately two-thirds of Team Europe with the opportunity to tee up in fourballs and foursomes golf for two days.
However, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland will expect to be playing for Europe in September and are not competing in the Hero Cup this week.
That still leaves eight Ryder Cup places up for grabs - and this week's Hero Cup competitors will be looking to impress Donald and show why they should be considered for the team.
Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters seem likely to get on Donald's team, while Marco Simone course winner Robert MacIntyre will also have high hopes, but there are at least three spots that will need filling by players who impress in the Hero Cup.
The Great Britain & Ireland team is slight favourites for the Hero Cup and can be backed at 10/13 in the To Win Outright market.
The fact that GB&I have so many proven Abu Dhabi GC champions in their line-up is one reason why they are so well fancied.
Fleetwood has twice been victorious in the Abu Dhabi Championship at this week's venue, while Hatton and Lowry are also course winners.
They are captained by Fleetwood and the nine players alongside him are Hatton, Lowry, MacIntyre, Ewen Ferguson, Richard Mansell, Seamus Power, Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith and Matt Wallace.
Continental Europe, the 6/5 outsiders, are captained by Francesco Molinari, who is desperate to get on the Ryder Cup team for the first match played in his Italian homeland.
Molinari is going into battle with Continental comrades of Pieters, Thomas Detry, Nicolai Hojgaard, Adrian Meronk, Guido Migliozzi, Alex Noren, Victor Perez, Antoine Rozner and Sepp Straka.
There are five fourballs matches on Friday, then two sessions of foursomes on Saturday - five games in the morning and five in the afternoon. The contest concludes with 10 singles matches on Sunday, so there are a total of 25 points available.
Tied matches will provide a half-point for each team, so a 12.5-12.5 Hero Cup draw is entirely feasible - priced up at 12/1 as an Alternative Correct Points Score.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club is a 7,642-yard, par-72, with four par-fives, 10 par-fours and four par-threes. Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson are the course-record holders, having both carded a 62, and the average winning score in the 16 Abu Dhabi Championships staged at this venue is 18 under par.
The exposed layout has water in play on nine holes, so any wind significantly adds to the difficulty, but sunny, pleasant, calm conditions are forecast.
Big-hitters have dominated at Abu Dhabi GC in the past – the likes of Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler and Fleetwood have flourished – and open desert layouts lend themselves to aggressive golf.
The draw may be worth considering at 12/1 given how evenly matched the two teams are for this Abu Dhabi shootout.
GB&I have the best players, but it could also be argued that they have the worst, too, while the Continentals are a balanced squad of similar abilities.
Detry may emerge as the pick of the Continentals and the 13/2 about the Belgian being his Top Team Points Scorer could be popular.
Detry has been in hot form on the PGA Tour and he seems likely to be given a fourballs gig alongside compatriot and friend Pieters, the pair having won the World Cup together for Belgium in 2018.
Fleetwood seems a solid option at 5/1 Top Team Points Scorer for GB&I. The Southport man has twice won the Abu Dhabi Championship at this venue and will be looking to lead by example for his team.