After last week’s thrilling Ryder Cup, the European Tour remains in Scotland this week for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. David Howell defends the title over the Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Lowdown:
After last week’s thrilling Ryder Cup, the European Tour remains in Scotland this week for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. David Howell defends the title over the Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Fresh off their stunning victory at Gleneagles, four members of the victorious European Ryder Cup team will play again this week. World Number 1 Rory McIlroy will tee it up, so too Martin Kaymer, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher. European Captain Paul McGinley is on the start sheet, together with his Vice-Captain Padraig Harrington.

Other star names playing this week include: Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Colin Montgomerie.

Two competitions run concurrently at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Firstly, a professional 72-hole strokeplay tournament and, secondly, a pro-am competition where the lowest score between the professional and his amateur partner is taken at each hole.

The first three rounds are played over St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie and those who make the cut play a final round over the Old Course. The split of venues provides spectators with a unique opportunity to get close to the professionals and to their famous partners. Over the first three days, admission is free with a ticket price of just £20 (£15 for concessions) on the final day at St Andrews.

Among the celebrity amateurs playing are film and TV stars: Hugh Grant, Damian Lewis, Greg Kinnear and Kyle MacLachlan, rock legends Don Felder, Huey Lewis and Tico Torres and many great sporting idols including Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Brian O’Driscoll, Sir Steve Redgrave, Tim Henman and Damon Hill.

The Dunhill Links Championship was first contested in 2001 when Paul Lawrie was the champion. He holed a putt from the Valley of Sin to take the title by a single stroke. In the proceeding years this event has been won by some of the European Tour’s biggest stars. Padraig Harrington has twice been victorious and Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Karlsson and Martin Kaymer have all been champions.

In last year’s competition England’s David Howell overcame America’s Peter Uihlein at the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to take the title – his first European Tour win since the BMW PGA Championship of 2006.

Howell is excited at the prospect of defending his title. “It will be lovely to come back as defending champion. It’s a real privilege and I shall enjoy every moment of it,” he said. “The win last year was a long time coming, seven years after my previous win and I could not have wished for a better place to do it than St Andrews.”

Venue: Old Course St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, Scotland
Date: Oct 2-5
Course stats: Old Course par 72, 7,279 yards; Kingsbarns par 72, 7,150 yards; Carnoustie par 72, 7,412 yards
Purse: €3,850,000 Winner: €575,000
Defending Champion: David Howell (-23)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Friday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Saturday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Sunday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm

Player Watch:
Rory McIlroy is 4-1 favourite. Who might surprise the World Number 1?

Shane Lowry – The Irishman is a great links player and was tied third in this event last year. He was also tied second in his last European outing – the ISPS HANDA Wales Open.

Tommy Fleetwood – Also tied second in Wales, Fleetwood has showed excellent form in recent weeks. He finished on 21-under-par in this event last season, just two strokes behind David Howell and Peter Uihlein.

Richie Ramsay – Fourth, eighth, ninth and 17th in his last four European Tour starts, Ramsay is another man who tends to perform well on the links. He’s from Aberdeen so is no stranger to cold, windy conditions. He was tied fourth in this tournament back in 2009.

Key hole: 17th Old Course. The most famous hole in world golf, if the competition is tight as the leaders reach the Road Hole for the final time, this is where it could be won and lost.

Skills required: Adaptability – Three courses means the players will have to answer the different questions posed by each. Plus, they’ll have to deal with partnering an amateur golfer.