Despite its undisputed title of “The Home of Golf” and its almost mythical status amongst golfing circles across the globe, there is usually only one tournament per year that takes place in St Andrews attracting the attention of the masses, but what a tournament it has grown into. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship combines a unique format with a sprinkling of celebrity stardust and one of the largest paychecks for the victor around to ensure that it has become a real highlight of the European Tour since its inaugural tournament in 2001. Essentially, the competition involves players each playing one round on the Old Course as well as nearby Carnoustie and Kingsbairns from Thursday to Saturday with the final round on Sunday being played solely on the iconic Old Course. With The Open generally only coming here every 5 years, this Sunday is usually regarded as the biggest day of most years here for golf, with the packed stands and television cameras only augmenting the great sense of occasion.
Taking a look at the list of golfers confirmed for this year’s event can also only add to the sense of excitement building over the 2018 edition. From across the pond, Brooks Koepka, the reigning US Open and PGA Championship winner, is perhaps the biggest golfing name confirmed to play and he’ll be joined by Tony Finau, who recorded top-10 finishes in 3 of the 4 majors this year. Both will have played in the Ryder Cup in Paris the week before, ensuring their name recognition will be undoubtedly heightened coming into the tournament. Joining them is compatriot Matt Kuchar, who finished runner-up at the 2017 US Open, has played in the last 4 Ryder Cups and won Olympic bronze in 2016. Closer to home, some massive names from the European Tour will also be present. Amongst them are a slew of former major winners, including Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen. Many eyes will also be trained on a pair of rising English stars who will also have just finished representing Team Europe in France: Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrell Hatton. Indeed, the latter of the pair will be chasing an unprecedented 3rd consecutive title at this tournament.
However the Dunhill wouldn’t be nearly as famous as it is without the celebrity glitz and glamour that accompanies it. The participating celebrities are paired with a professional golfer and compete in a parallel competition running alongside the main event. This celebrity presence is undoubtedly what excites many students about the tournament, even if their interest in the golf on show is minimal! This year the star-studded lineup includes big names from the world of music such as Ronan Keating, the former Westlife as well as his fellow ex-band member Brian McFadden and the usual list of sporting legends from other arenas, such as Ruud Gullit, Brian O’Driscoll and Shane Warne. With free admission onto the Old Course for the first 3 days of the competition that runs from the 4th-7th October, it doesn’t matter whether you are keen on catching some world-class golf or just hoping to snap some pics with big-name celebrities, a hugely enjoyable few days awaits.