Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Five Way Tie on Day 1

There is a five way tie at the top of the leaderboard on day 1 of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. This unique event is held  over three links courses in Scotland, St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Day One

Hugh Grant, who is playing in the Pro-Am.

Three of the top five players were on the Old Course at St. Andrews, they are Richard McEvoy, Alexandre Kaleka, and Mark Tullo. These three had opening rounds of -8 under par 64. Matching them on that -8 under 64 total were Oliver Wilson and Tom Lewis, who played the old course at Kingsbarns.

Oliver is happy to be finding some form at last;

“I’m playing a lot better, for the first time in probably over a year actually, I have some control over my shots and am able to hit the shots and trust it under pressure as well. I’m driving the ball way, way better, which is essentially the thing that had disappeared. I wasn’t able to get it in play, wasn’t able to get it on fairways and, in any wind, I was really in trouble. It was nice of Dunhill to give me an invite to this event, because it’s going to be a great test.I just have to keep playing well. Wherever I play, if I play well, it’s only a matter of time before I get to I where want to get to, so that’s the most important thing. The game is improving all the time and everything’s settled down and moving in the right direction. It’s nice because it’s been a while.”

Tom, who won the Portugal Masters in just his third Tour event, said winning early in his career has helped him,

“Winning so early helped me compete at the top-level but at the same time probably hurt me as well by expecting too much, too early. I’m learning and it’s a shame that I haven’t performed better over the last couple of years, but when I’m back at the top, I’ll be ready to be back at the top whereas before I probably wasn’t. You just want to give up half the time. It’s a good job but any job is tough, especially at the level here the guys are playing at. Obviously I’ve been through tough times and been upset a lot of the time, and it’s actually been probably the toughest two years of my life.”

Richard, who along with Tom and Oliver is in danger of losing his card, needs a win;

” Three years ago I finished well (eighth) in this event to keep my card, but at the moment I’m so far down in the back of my mind I need to win, really. But if I go out, I need to go out with a bang, so I’ve got to give it a shot, and that’s what I did today.”

Mark had Alexandre as his playing partner today, and said they had been feeding off each others good play;

” It was good, I played with Kaleka today, and we both got into a quick start, so we were feeding off each other with good shots, good birdies. I have to admit I do enjoy links golf courses. I like to use my imagination around the greens sometimes.”  

Alexandre added;

“No bogeys, eight birdies, so that’s a dream round. It’s always special to play the Old Course, so I’m very pleased with that day and I hope Sunday will be, as well.”

Probably the best round of the day went to Jamie Donaldson, -7 under par 65, on the Carnoustie course, he shares sixth place with  George Murray and English trio Mark Foster, Matthew Baldwin and Tommy Fleetwood, all at -7 under par.

Alfred Dunhill Links Champion 2012, Branden Grace

Branden Grace  (Getty Images)

 

Branden Grace, holding the Trophy, standing on the Swilcan Burn Bridge. A Dream come True/getty

Branden Grace won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews on Sunday, with a final round score of -2 under par 70 on the Old Course, and a two shot lead over Thorbjorn Olesen from Denmark. Thorbjorn had been closest to Branden all week and put up a really good effort to try and win the tournament himself with a -4 under par 68 last round. Branden’s comment;

” It feels awesome. I’ve really dreamt of this moment my whole life, I had goosebumps thinking this morning about Louis and the possibility of holding a trophy here myself. It was a tough day, but the putter started working and that’s all I needed to do.”

This is Branden’s  fourth victory of the 2012 European Tour season, and he is  the first player since Martin Kaymer in 2010 to win four times in the same season. He graduated from the 2011 European Tour Qualifying School, and is the first graduate to win four times the year after graduation. He is also The first South African to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Another South African George Coetzee shot the round of the day with a marvelous -10 under par 62 on the Old Course at St Andrews, a wonderful round of golf, which propelled George into the tie for fifth place at -15 under par for the tournament.

I love playing Links golf, which is why I am a member of  Paraparaumu Beach Golf Links in New Zealand. One of these days I will return to the Old Country and play St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, I still have a few good golfing years left in me. If check the picture below, to the right you will see the Tom Morris Golf  Shop. It was opened in 1866, can you just imagine walking in there, soaking in the atmosphere and the history

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Amazing Grace.

Branden Grace  (Getty Images)

Branden Grace/getty images

Branden Grace unsurprisingly will have a four shot lead when he stands on the first tee for the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Branden has been dominant in this tournament since the first round, on Saturday had a -3 under par round at Carnoustie, giving him a tournament total of -20 under par.

Branden referred to the name Carnasty, a name that arose during the 1999 Open when the rough was some of the thickest ever seen and a  then 19-year-old Sergio Garcia finished last on +30 over par;

“I didn’t play particularly well. There were loose shots here and there, but this course mentally does it to you. I kept fighting, got it around and finishing with a birdie is a bonus. Everybody calls it ” Carnasty”  and it showed you still have to hit good shots. I’ve dreamt of picking any trophy up on that bridge on the 18th at St Andrews, so maybe this time tomorrow it happens.”

Another South African, Major winner Ernie Els is full of praise for his countryman Branden;

“He’s good enough to win an Open, he’s that good. I remember winning the 2007 South African Open and he was top amateur, he’s always been a quality player and he’s a world contender now. His game is so suited for links golf,  he hits those low bullet drives and he can really putt.”

The ever-present Thorbjorn Olesen is four shots adrift of the leader after his third round of -4 under par 68 at the Kingsbarns course and has a mountain to climb if he wants to lift this trophy.

The final round on Sunday will be played at St Andrews, the home of golf, and I can not see anyone but Branden Grace achieving his dream and lifting that trophy on the Swilcan Burn Bridge.

 

 

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, 2nd Round

Branden Grace  (Getty Images)

Branden Grace/getty images

Branden Grace cemented his place at the top of the leaderboard in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland on Friday with a 2nd round score of -5 under par 67, on the St Andrews Old Course. Branden now has a total tournament score of -17 under par, 5 shots clear of the two players tied in second place on -12 under par. Branden suffered his first bogey, on the fourth hole at the home of Golf, but then bounced back with six birdies on the day;

” As soon as I made the birdie at the fifth I settled down and got things going and the form of yesterday kicked in. The putts kept going in and I made three 25 footers which was nice.I think the way I’m playing and hitting the ball I’m looking forward to playing Carnoustie. The putter is going and I’m looking forward to it.”

The two players who are five shots back are Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Sweden’s wonderfully dressed Joel Sjoholm, his plus fours outfit is totally in keeping with Scotland and Links courses.

Joel Sjoholm  (Getty Images)

Joel Sjoholm/getty images

Joel played himself into contention on day two of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a second round -5 under par 67 on the Old Course at St Andrews. Joel said he loved the course at St Andrews;

“It was a pleasure, this was the first time I have played 18 holes at St Andrews, so it’s been an absolutely fantastic adventure for me.
It has been a really good day.  Now I honestly understand why everybody’s talking so much about it, and I don’t know the history, so you cannot quiz me on that, but I guess that on a course like this a lot of things can happen. I can see myself that today I’ve been a little bit lucky, I’m hitting drives, they might be in the bunker or all these bushes everywhere and we find them and some guys might just stripe it in the fairway.  This course is absolutely amazing.”

Thorbjorn, an equally strikingly dressed golfer, usually in very bright dazzling colors, remained near the top of the leaderboard for second day with his round of -3 under par 69 on the challenging Carnoustie Championship Course. Thorbjorn was happy with his good play over the two days. He spoke about the good friendship his has with Joel and how that rivalry inspired him on his last hole of the day, to go for a birdie and tie Joel for second spot;

“It’s been good the last two days, definitely, I hit a lot of solid drives and good irons too.  I actually thought I left a few out there today,         it could have been a few more but three under is still a good score at Carnoustie. I was standing on the last three holes and I thought, ‘I need to make a birdie just to tie him, It was quite funny. We have a really good friendship and I think that’s good for our games also.”

Paul Casey had some fun with a stray dog on the course at Kingsbarns;

Paul Casey  (Getty Images)

Paul Casey/getty images

Paul said of his encounter with the dog;

” The wee dog was roaming around this morning on the first tee when we teed off 10, so we got to the 12th fairway, the dog is running around, and to be honest it just looked like it was a little bit lost. So I went over and made friends with it on the back of the 12th green and next thing I know, the thing runs over and picks up my ball.  I had about 30 feet for eagle.  I was trying to get him to put it in the hole, but then he ran off with it up the hill toward the 13th tee. There was a moment when panic set in when I was wondering if I would have to play it where I found it!”

Another aside to a splendid day was from American Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 22 medals. Michael can add to his tally of records with his first record of his  new career sport of golf. He has entered the record books for making the longest putt ever televised, with a 159 foot putt at the 6th hole on the Kingsbarns course in this tournament.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

 

 

Grace shines in Scotland

Branden Grace/getty

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was set alight by Branden Grace, who shot a course record breaking -12 under par 60 in his first round at the Kingsbarn Course in Scotland. Branden has become the 15th player in European Tour history to shoot 60, and he now tops the leaderboard in this three course tournament, at -12 under par.

South African Branden was looking for a 59;

“It could have been a 59, I said to my caddy when I hit it stiff on 18 that it could be close to a 59.”

It was a day for low scores in this event, Victor Dubuisson of France shot a course-record -10 under par 62 on the famous Old Course at St. Andrews, it’s one of three venues staging the tournament. Victor holds second place on his own, with Thorbjorn Olsen, also playing St Andrews,  one shot behind him at -9 under par with his 63, and third place alone.

There were also three players who 64 at St Andrews, Alexander Noren, Fredrik Anderson Hed, and Ashley Hall.

Best score from the players on Carnoustie course was Oliver Wilson and Gregory Haveret, who both had a -5 under par round of 67, which was only good enough to tie them for 19th place. They must be hoping St Andrews stays as benign for their rounds so they can make up some of the ground. Out of the top 15 scores on the board, 12 of them came from St Andrews, with Carnoustie being the toughest to play.

Englishman Oliver Wilson was very pleased with his performance;

“I played very solidly and had no bogeys, which is always nice, I holed a 20-footer on the last for par. My confidence just kept going up as I went along. All year, the good has been good and the bad has been really bad, which doesn’t work.  I’ve changed coaches and gone back to Mike Walker, who I worked with when I was playing my best. I’m much happier. It’s just kind of going back to doing what I did before and looking at why I did so well, and just learning what those important parts of the swing are that are imperative for me to play well. It really comes down to the take-away.  If I can get the take-away in the correct position, I play well, and I probably haven’t put as much focus on that over the last year to 18 months as I needed to. I’ve probably got two more events this season after this one, so I really want to get a top ten to get into the Portugal Masters next week. I’m 137th in The Race to Dubai so I need to play well between now and the end of the year.”

Tomorrow should even things up a bit and we will get a clearer view of where everybody is in this three course tournament.