MARTIN Kaymer, the man who sank the putt at Medinah which retained the Ryder Cup for Europe, will be teeing off at St Andrews this week as he attempts to win his second Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Kaymer, who won the Championship in 2010, the same year he captured the US PGA Championship, became the European hero as he beat Steve Stricker to take the European Team to a match score of 14 points and ensure that the Ryder Cup would stay in Europe.
In addition to Kaymer, this week’s professional field for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s most valuable tournaments, has a Ryder Cup feel to it with Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie, winner of the first Championship in 2001, also playing, along with all four of the European Team vice-captains - Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul McGinley.
Also flying in from Medinah is world No 13 Dustin Johnson, one of the stars of the United States team, to take part in his second straight Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he is partnering his brother Austin Johnson in the Team Championship.
Hollywood star Bill Murray, forever remembered by golf fans for his role as the greenkeeper in the film Caddyshack, is one of a sparkling group of amateurs who will be joining the professionals for the Championship, which begins on Thursday on three great links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
Murray, who has played in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship twice before, won a Golden Globe as best actor in a musical or comedy for his superb performance in 2003 film Lost In Translation. Other tour de force performances in more than 20 years in films include the 1984 hit Ghost Busters and Groundhog Day, the 1993 film in which he plays a hard-bitten reporter. His latest film is Hyde Park on Hudson, in which he plays US President Franklin D Roosevelt; a role for which he is being tipped for an Oscar nomination.
Also playing are Hollywood actor Greg Kinnear and rock music legends Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, plus a host of great sports stars, including Olympic and Paralympic gold medal heroes Michael Phelps and Oscar Pistorius.
American swimmer Michael Phelps went into history books as the most decorated Olympian of all time in London this summer. He won four gold and two silver medals to take his career total of medals won to 22, made up of 18 gold, two silver and two bronze. Phelps took up golf after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and is being taught by Tiger Woods’ old coach Hank Haney. He says: “This will be the first time I have played golf in Scotland and I am looking forward to it. Swimming training does not leave much time for golf, but now I have retired it is going to be a bigger part of my life. And what better way to start than playing at the Home of Golf in St Andrews in such an amazing competition.”
South African track star Pistorius, who runs on carbon fibre blades, became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games and also won two gold and a silver medal in the Paralympic Games. He plays off 18 handicap and has never played on any of the three courses. He says: “Playing these courses in a world-class event is a unique opportunity.”
In a strong turn-out of sports stars, Phelps and Pistorius will be joined by former Olympic rowing legends Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave, Dutch football legends Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, former England player Jamie Redknapp, Scottish defender Alan Hansen, a strong team of cricketers in Sir Ian Botham, Brian Lara, Andrew Strauss, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne and rugby’s Schalk Brits, Morné du Plessis and Gavin Hastings.
There are no fewer than ten Major Championship winners in the field. In addition to Kaymer, Lawrie and Clarke, current Open champion Ernie Els leads a strong South African contingent, including 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and 2011 US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, while other Major winners are Americans Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel, and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. Ireland’s three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington will be bidding for a unique third Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, having taken the title in 2002 and 2006.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which celebrates links golf at its finest, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.
Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be free at all three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £15 (concessionary £10) will be charged for the final day’s play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 7. Entry for under 16s and students is free. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0844 581 4922 or at the entrance gates.