Sweden’s Alex Noren played one of the best rounds of his life to open up a one-shot lead on the first day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Noren, already a two-time winner this year, putted brilliantly for a record-equalling eight-under-par 64 over the mighty links of Carnoustie, the most difficult of the three courses played in the Championship.
He is followed by England’s Ross Fisher, who had a 65 at Kingsbarns, with another Swede, Joakim Lagergren, and England’s Matt Ford a further shot back.
Noren, who has won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the Omega European Masters this year, said: “That was probably one of the best rounds I’ve played, so I’m very happy right now. I’ve never shot lower than 71 at Carnoustie. I didn’t expect much, but it went better than I expected. It was tough conditions, but I putted great.”
The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, 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 – and raises substantial funds for charity each year.
Ross Fisher said: “I’m obviously very pleased. Kingsbarns is normally the easier of the three courses so you know you have to make a decent score here, but when the wind blows it’s anything but easy. My eagle on the 3rd hole was obviously the highlight and to finish with another birdie on the 9th was the icing on the cake.”
Now he moves on to play the Old Course. “You never get tired of playing St Andrews, it’s the Home of Golf and it’s always a privilege to play there. It all depends on the weather. If the wind gets up then level par could be a decent score, but if it stays calm you can obviously take advantage. I enjoy the format, the experience and the atmosphere is great. It makes for a lovely change,” added Fisher.
After a blustery first day, the Scottish challenge is led by Scott Jamieson, who shot a 67 at Kingsbarns and is currently tied on five-under-par with England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Callum Shinkwin and France’s Raphael Jacquelin,
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.
Among the celebrity amateurs playing are film stars Jamie Dornan, Andy Garcia, Matthew Goode and Hugh Grant, rock stars David Farrell, Ronan Keating, Huey Lewis and Brian McFadden and many great sporting idols including Sir Ian Botham and Sir Steve Redgrave, who have both played in all 16 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships, cricketers Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne, Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll, record-breaking jump jockey Sir Anthony McCoy, star international footballers Michael Ballack, Luis Figo and Ruud Gullit and former Formula One world champion Damon Hill.
First round leaders in the Team Championship are Adrian Otaegui and Frank Quattrone, who shot a team score of 13-under at Kingsbarns.
In June 2011 the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation was established as the official Foundation of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, formalising years of charitable giving from which a variety of causes have benefitted. Since 2001, playing spots have been donated to more than 50 different charities to help them to raise funds.
The Foundation is committed to developing young amateur golfers in Scotland and South Africa and also supports the University of St Andrews and the St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation, which refurbishes and preserves historical monuments in the town.
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Admission is free for all spectators over the first three days with final day tickets on Sunday, October 9 available to purchase at the entrance gates for £20 (Seniors £15) or in advance at: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/alfred-dunhill-links-championship-tickets-25844992067