MISSION HILLS (China) (AFP) The United States are confident they can mount a strong challenge for the World Cup of Golf at Mission Hills this week and end a nine-year drought since they last took the trophy. Tiger Woods and David Duval notched the 23rd victory for the United States in 2000 in a tournament that has featured stellar US golf names including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan since it started in 1953. I think we are both playing well this year and we are looking to come and play well and compete for the championship here. I think our games match up nicely for this format, said John Merrick, ranked 139 in the world, referring to himself and team-mate Nick Watney. He said talking to Fred Couples, who won four World Cups in a row with Davis Love III from 1992-95, made him realise what he had to match up to. It was pretty funny, talking with Fred, he said. So hes like: 'Yeah, good luck. Youve got your work cut out for you. World number 31 Watney, who has won twice on the US PGA Tour, including this years Buick Invitational, said the barren years for the United States showed the strength of the world game. We are here to try to end that drought, he said. I dont know if not winning since 2000 is any indication of golf in the United States. I just think its an indication that everyone else is really good as well. Merrick said the tournament was highly valued in the United States, despite the absence of the top names in US golf. I think its taken pretty seriously. Its a global aevent. Theres players from all over the world that play, and, yeah, I think its a big deal. We want to represent the country well and put (on) a good showing. Twenty-eight nations will battle for the title at Mission Hills in southern China in the 5.5-million-dollar strokeplay team event, featuring the likes of Sergio Garcia and Asias first Major winner, Yang Yong-Eun. The Omega Mission Hills World Golf Championship is a 72-hole event with each team comprising two players. The first and third days are fourball, in which four balls are used and the player with the fewest shots takes the hole for their team. The second and final days involve foursomes play, where the teams compete using only one ball per pair.