The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is traditionally one of the premier tournaments on the European Tour Calendar. Held across three of Scotland’s most fabled links course, Kingsbarns, Canoustie and, of course, St Andrews. The tournament is a pro-am event, similar to the Pebble Beach pro-am in the states with less glitz in terms of celebrity names. Despite now being positioned the week after the Tour Championship, the event is always well attended and this year is no exception. Names such as Kaymer, Els and Harrington had long committed themselves to this event before their early FedEx exits. Charl Schwartzel is honouring his commitment to play despite playing in Atlanta last weekend and Vijay Singh is making the trip across the pond to play this week.
The celebrity aspect to this event is one that is continually growing and developing, it’s not to the taste of some golfing purists who feel that the courses are not allowed to be the exacting test they could be due to the restrictions having amateurs in the event places on course toughness. For me, if the event helps to create interest in the game and gets more spectators along to the two other Scottish based European Tour events then it should applauded and not belittled. Clearly, there is a sacrifice on course toughness for these four days but there is no sacrifice on entertainment and last year was no exception.
Branden Grace produced a master class on the links en route to a winning total of 22 under par and a five shot winning margin, he will be lining up this week hoping to become the first back to back winner of the event. His victory was the fourth of the year and the first South African winner of the event since it’s conversion from a team event in 2001. His form this year has been patchy at best as is often the case when a player has such a successful season the year before. In this case it pushed Grace inside the world’s top fifty and into a different schedule to that he had experienced in his short career. He is a class player though and should be respected this week but is hard to assess in terms of picking him as a winner.
Weather conditions in links events are always major factor especially when at an event like this with multiple host courses. On the first three days, where the field is split across the three courses, conditions look similar on all three courses, with cool temperatures all three days and a slight breeze on Thursday and Friday which is forecast to pick speed on Saturday. As a result you would arguably prefer to play Kingsbarn, traditionally the low scoring course, on Thursday or Friday when the wind is down compared to Saturday’s forecast. It is very much a fun event to watch but I do have one selection this week and it is Alvaro Quiros;
Quiros is a class player and when he won the DP Dubai World Championship in 2011, he looked to be set for the big time but swing changes in early 2012 failed to have the desired effect at all throughout last year and a wrist injury suffered in late 2012 kept him out till March this year. He was slow to find any form following this lay off but the signs have been altogether more positive in recent months. He is looking more and more like the player that had won every season from 2007-2011, an early sign of this came in the Irish when he finished tied 5th. Since then he has been a tad patchy but his last two events have produced a career best 22nd place at the KLM and another career best of 8th in the Italian Open. He finished tied 5th in this event in 2010 and with his ‘home’ event of the Portugal Masters then next scheduled stroke play event, he will be keen go there in continued good form. He is a proven winner and I think this could a big week in the return of Quiros
- This Week in Golf — Sept. 26-29 (bnd.com)
- This Week in Golf — Sept. 26-29 (myrtlebeachonline.com)
- St Andrews Golf Magazine @ The Dunhill (standrewsgolfmagazine.wordpress.com)
- 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Tips (fmck95.wordpress.com)
- St Andrews Golf Magazine @ The Dunhill Monday (standrewsgolfmagazine.wordpress.com)
- Relaxed Louis ready to tee off (iol.co.za)