Professional golfers and celebrities team up for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship played at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns this week. Thorbjorn Olesen is the defending champion.
After last week’s Ryder Cup, six European team members have made the journey back to Scotland to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Matt Fitzpatrick, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett will tee it up in St Andrews.
Other star names on the tee sheet include: Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Alex Noren, Shane Lowry and Soren Kjeldsen.
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, Jamie Dornan, Hugh Grant, Andy Garcia and Kyle MacLachlan; Musicians, Ronan Keating, Huey Lewis, Tico Torres and Brian McFadden; plus stars of other sports like Michael Ballack, who won the team event last year, Sir Ian Botham, Luis Figo, Jacques Kallis, Shane Warne, Sir Steve Redgrave and A.P. McCoy.
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 Thorbjorn Olesen claimed a third European Tour title. The Dane finished two shots clear of Americans, Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud.
The weather forecast for the week looks reasonable with no significant rain predicted. It might be a touch on the breezy side though and that should suit the players who can control their ball flight the best.
Venue: Old Course St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, Scotland
Date: Oct 6-9
Course stats: Old Course par 72, 7,307 yards; Kingsbarns par 72, 7,227 yards; Carnoustie par 72, 7,345 yards
Purse: €4,475,000 Winner: €711,073
Defending Champion: Thorbjorn Olesen (-18)
Thursday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Friday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Saturday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Sunday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm
Thomas Pieters – He’s one of the form players in world golf right now. Fresh off the back of an outstanding rookie performance in the Ryder Cup, where he picked up four points out of five, the Belgian will be looking to keep his good play going this week. He was fourth in the Olympics, second in the Czech Masters and winner of the Made in Denmark.
Branden Grace – The South African is a former winner of this tournament, back in 2012. He was tied fourth in the USPGA Championship.
Alex Noren – The Swede has performed brilliantly in Scottish events so far this season. He was the winner of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and then runner-up in the Paul Lawrie Match Play. He was third in this event back in 2012.
Alex Noren’s fairway bunker tips:
Key hole: 17th Old Course St Andrews. 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’ll be won and lost.
Skills required: Adaptability – Three courses mean the players will have to answer the different questions posed by each. Plus, they’ll have to deal with partnering an amateur golfer.