Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre, the man who stemmed an American fightback in the Ryder Cup in Rome, tees off on Thursday hoping to deliver the first home win since 2005 in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Not on the same side this time, up against him is ever popular Tommy Fleetwood, who secured the decisive half point to clinch victory over the United States, and fellow Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Fitzpatrick.
With an American revival taking place in Saturday’s fourballs, MacIntyre sank a tricky putt on the 13th green to give him and partner Justin Rose a two-shot lead with five holes to play. In the end they beat the formidable Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas pairing 3&2.
MacIntyre, 27, further enhanced his reputation by beating US Open champion Wyndham Clark 2&1 in the singles on Sunday.
2022 US Open winner Fitzpatrick, another of the successful European fresh from the victory said: “I’m delighted to be returning to the Old Course. St Andrews is really special to me and it will be a fun place to be, right after the Ryder Cup. I’m looking forward to a memorable week.”
Defending champion, and winner of the BMW PGA Championship last month, Ryan Fox said: “Winning the Alfred Dunhill Links last year made me realise that I could win at the highest level. The next wonderful thing that could happen to me is to defend my Dunhill title and that’s what I’ll be looking to do.”
While Fox is looking for back-to-back victories, Padraig Harrington, enjoying enormous success as a senior, is trying to become the first to win three Alfred Dunhill Links titles, after successes in 2002 and 2006. Among the other big names in the field seeking the prestigious title are Billy Horschel and Matt Kuchar each hoping to become the first American winner, and South African Louis Oosthuizen who won the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2010.
MacIntyre, who, in addition to his Ryder Cup feats, came close in July to winning the Genesis Scottish Open, leads a strong local challenge, trying to provide the first Scottish winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links since Colin Montgomerie in 2005.
Among the Scottish challengers are Connor Syme, who came tenth in the BMW PGA, Richie Ramsay, Ewen Ferguson and Calum Hill, who are all trying to be the first Scottish winner since Colin Montgomerie in 2005.
There will be a special welcome at St Andrews this week for David Howell who will be enjoying a double celebration. Not only is it the tenth anniversary of his famous 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links victory, but he will be creating a new record for the number of appearances in European Tour / DP World Tour events. When he tees off on Thursday, he will be making his 722nd appearance, surpassing Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Howell said: “Once I got to 700 and I was still on tour this year, then I was aware of it. It’s not something you set out to break of course. There’s only a few of us that have played anywhere near this number. But it’s a nice thing to have done for sure.”
The Championship is a celebration of Links golf and is played over three great Links courses – the Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. This is the 22nd staging of the event.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the Championship incorporates two separate competitions - an Individual Professional event for the world's leading golfers and the Team Championship in which the professionals are paired with amateur golfers, creating a unique atmosphere.
Global stars from the world of entertainment and sport are among the celebrity amateurs, this year including actors Bill Murray, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Kathryn Newton and Matthew Goode, and a golfing band of rock giants, past and present.
Hugely popular singer-songwriter Ronan Keating, Keane’s Tom Chaplin, Linkin Park’s Dave Farrell and Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics, will be sharing the fairways with cult US rock legends Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi’s Tico Torres.
This will be the first time Catherine Zeta-Jones has played in the Alfred Dunhill Links, although she was an enthusiastic supporter in 2005 when her husband Michael Douglas teamed up with Scottish golf star Colin Montgomerie to play in the Team Championship.
Also playing is Piers Morgan, author, columnist and host of daily TV show Piers Morgan Uncensored on the new channel Talk TV.
A blue chip group of sportsmen will be picking up their golf clubs to partner the professionals, including a seven-strong team of cricketers, led by legendary all-rounder Lord Ian Botham, fast bowling partnership Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan and batters Kevin Pietersen, Allan Lamb and Mark Nicholas.
Footballers Gareth Bale and Ruud Gullit, join record-breaking Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave, who has played in every Alfred Dunhill Links since 2001, Sir Tony (A.P) McCoy, the great National Hunt jockey, Springboks Rugby World Cup winning flanker Schalk Burger Jnr and Denver Broncos John Elway, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of American Football.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation is the official Foundation of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The Foundation supports several local and international charities including its commitment to developing young amateur golfers in Scotland and South Africa, education through the support of the University of St Andrews and Robert T Jones Memorial Trust, and the support of the St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation SCIO, which refurbishes and preserves historical monuments in the town of St Andrews.