Strike-a-light! The European Tour heads over to St. Andrews for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Defending champion Tyrell Hatton (18/1) who equalled the course record of 62 when winning, is bullish about his chances, but can he go all the way and claim victory once again? Join our man in the thermals as heads to the Old Course to preview the combatants and send us the latest news 'n views in his broadside from the bunkers below!
THE ALFRED DUNHILL LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP | SS Golf 5th October, 9AM
Favourite: Rory McIlroy 5/1
TOURNAMENT & COURSE OVERVIEW
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship owes a degree of it's popularity to the fact that it pairs a pro with a celebrity amateur in much the same way as the Pro-Am Pebble beach in the States. This runs alongside the 72-hole strokeplay tournament competed for by the professionals. However, the inclusion of amateurs means that the set-up is usually quite easy and scores are likely to be low. The pros play a separate stroke-play event, with points being scored per hole. After three rounds the field is reduced to 60 pros including ties, plus the leading 20 Pro-Am teams, with the final round being played at the Old Course.
The Old Course itself is one of the oldest courses in the world, being established in 1552. It remains a public course, open to all, though it only plays on a Sunday on four occasions throughout the year - this weekend obviously being one of those occasions.
The course itself has large, double greens, with seven greens sharing two holes each! Only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have their own greens. The grass is Brow Top on the greens and Rye and Meadowgrass on the fairways. There are 112 bunkers, and each and every one of them has its own name! One of these, The Road Bunker, is a 10-ft monster guarding what has the be the course's signature hole, The Road Hole, the par-4 17th, which is a real devil! If the bunker wasn't enough, players using the back tees cannot see where their tee shots land. This is not unusual except that they must take aim over a corner of replica railway sheds which lie beyond the out of bounds wall. The original sheds were torn down when the rail line running next to the course closed, and after several Opens were played without the tee shot being blind, replicas of the sheds were created in preparation for the 1984 Open. Over the back of the green, hazards include a tarmac roadway, as well as an old stone wall.
PRIZE POOL: $5,000,000 - with 711,073€ for the winner - and the same amount in Race to Dubai points.
WEATHER: Mild, to be fair! Light rain on Friday, with light winds of just 3-4 MPH on three days. Saturday will see a rather more blustery day, with gusts reacing 15/16 MPH, but all-in-all it should be great for golf!
By George: Coetzee for the win!
Our first pick to go deep in this unique competition, the European Tour finale, is in-form 31-year-old South African George Coetzee. He loves playing here and shares the course record for the Old Course (62). T3 at the KLM Open was followed by a T7 and the Portugal Masters before last week's T15 at the British Masters. His driving is approaching laser-like intensity, but it's his prowess on and around the greens that give us cause for optimism: 33/1 is a decent price for someone in form.*
Coetzee's fellow countryman, 36-year-old Richard Sterne is next-up, the South African another who plays this links course, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, really well. His last two finishes here were sixth and second, losing to England's Tyrell Hatton last time out. Now pain and injury-free, he's putting together a run of tournaments, the rust being stripped from both his technique and mentality. T9 at the Omega European Masters if he starts well he could certainly be in the mix at the end. 45/1*
Lastly, we're going to end with 28-year-old Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is another who seems to respond well to Links golf. He has won the Paul Lawrie matchplay and finished fourth here in his only start two years ago. He finished T9 at the KLM, but really should have done better. His driving and aggression are second to none and again, if he starts well he could well be in the frame come the end. 50/1*
Whomever you decide to back, don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@stanjames) as we mark your card with all the latest updates: it's just like being on the fairway yourself!
Safeway Open - Preview and Tips: HERE!
- 2016 - Tyrrell Hatton - 18/1
- 2015 - Thorbjørn Olesen - 28/1
- 2014 - Oliver Wilson - N/A
- 2013 - David Howell - 400/1
- 2012 - Branden Grace - 22/1
- 2011 - Michael Hoey - N/A
- 2010 - Martin Kaymer - 33/1
Whoever you're backing, don't forget StanJames are offering our famous ACCA Insurance on the Alfred Dunhill and/or Safeway Open
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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