Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Tyrrell Hatton Has One Hand on the Trophy.

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Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, from England, has one hand on the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy after 54 holes in Scotland.

 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Tyrrell Hatton / getty

Tyrrell hauled himself clear of the field with third round -7 under par 65 at Kingsbarns, to post -18 under par at the top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and will take a five shot advantage into the final round at St Andrews tomorrow, on the Old Course;

“To win at the home of golf once is incredible but to do it again and defend would be a dream come true.”

“Last year, this event was a fantastic moment for me.”

“It’s great to be back and I’m enjoying my first defence.

“Last year was a new experience for me going out leading a tournament and I managed to do a really good job. Made myself very difficult to catch, hopefully I can do that again tomorrow.”

“I’ll certainly try my best to do that. That’s all anyone can ever do is try their best and I’ll certainly do that.”

In second place is Grégory Bourdy, France, a -6 under par 66 at Carnoustie levering him up the leaderboard, but at -13 under for the tournament he has a long way to go to catch the leader;

“Very pleased for sure but it’s one of my favourite links courses as well. I feel good on it and I knew I could do a good score there.”

Paul Dunne, Ireland, -2 under 70 at Kingsbarns has third place at -11 under par, while Luke Donald, England, -6 under 66 at Kingsbarns, makes a rare but pleasing return to the higher end of a leaderboard, and Ross Fisher, England, -5 under 67, Kingsbarns, both players at -10 under for the tournament, but all will be fighting it out for the minor placings tomorrow.

Luke was a happy man;

“Happy with that score.”

“Happy to be in the mix, and go out there and shoot a low one.”

 

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Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Two Tied at the Top.

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There are two players tied at the top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Paul Dunne and Nicolas Colsaerts share the honor after the first round  in Scotland.

 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Paul Dunne / getty

Last weeks winner Paul, from Ireland continued with his good form shooting -5 under par 67 at St. Andrews Old Course, while Nicolas, Belgium joined him at the top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard carding the same score over at Kingsbarns.

Paul is closely associated with St Andrews after leading the 2015 Open Championship at the 54 hole stage, as an amateur;

“I think the Open was a great thing for me here because it opened so many doors for sponsors and invites and that kind of thing when I turned pro but, also, how many times are you going to lead the Open at St. Andrews with one round to go?”

“My iron play was really solid, I was hitting everything pin-high on the front nine which is a big advantage because the greens are so big.”

“You’re probably not going to miss many but when it gets windy, two-putting from 60 feet can be difficult.”

“I didn’t play great coming in. I kind of did the opposite of what I should have done but I’ll take the five under.”

Nicolas stayed calm but did push until the end, holing the round off with a long putt on the 18th;

“I kept very composed, I pressed it until the end, which is nice. Birdied seventeen which is not really a birdie hole.”

“I hit it really close and finished it off with the longest putt of the day on eighteen, which is nice.”

Five players are then tied at -4 under, some at St Andrews, then Kingsbarns,  best score from Carnoustie was -3 under par.

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Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Alex Noren Leads.

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Alex Noren leads after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, played over three courses in Scotland,  Carnoustie, Old Course St Andrews and Kingsbarns.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Alex Noren / getty

SWE Alex equaled the Carnoustie course record in his opening round -8 under par 64, to sit on top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard;

“It was tough conditions but probably one of the best rounds I’ve played, so I’m very happy right now.”

“The course, all three courses, are in probably the best shape I’ve ever seen them. The greens are running great. It’s in great shape.”

Sitting in second place at -7 under par is ENG Ross Fisher after his 65 round at Kingsbarns.

ENG Matt Ford 65 at Kingsbarns and SWE Joakim Lagergren 66 at Carnoustie, share third place at -6 under par.

Joakim said he putted very well today;

“I played very well and was solid all day, I would say. I putted really well and made some great saves coming in on the last five or six holes.”

 

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Rookies Jimmy Mullen and Paul Dunne Lead

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Rookies Jimmy Mullen and Paul Dunne, share lead with Kristoffer Broberg after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. This tournament is played over three courses, St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Jimmy Mullen / Getty Images

Jimmy has had a great amateur year, becoming just the fourth man in history to win all four of his matches in a Walker Cup. He carded a first round -8 under par at Kingsbarns and said he was just doing the same things as usual;

“What I did as an amateur worked, so I didn’t see any reason to change it.”

“I made the cut in The Open, two, three years ago now, and I knew I was better than that.”

“I just stuck to what me and caddie Alex (Howie) and Paul (Mitchell), my coach, who is up for a practice day, stuck to our game plan and our routine, and it worked all right today.”

“I’ll try and do it again the next hopefully three days.”

Paul also had a wonderful year, he held a share of the lead going into the final round of The Open at St Andrews. He also posted -8 under at Kingsbarns, a hole in one from 205 yards at the par three 15th, and a great putting performance made his day;

“I kind of needed it, I got off to a bit of a ropey start. I was hitting a lot of poor full shots.”

“My putter was kind of saving me, to be level par playing 15 which was my sixth, and it was nice to get a hole-in-one. It was exactly as I pictured it.

“I tried to start it at the left edge of green and let the wind drift it and I thought I hit it close and when I saw it drop, it was great. Nice little bonus there.”

“I played some good golf from then on in. Happy with my score.”

“There are scores out there to be had. You just have to make putts and get dialed in with your distance control and your irons.”

“I played a lot better on the front nine than I did on the back nine, which was my front nine, a lot better striking of my irons.”

Kristoffer, who is still searching for his first European Tour win carded his eight under at St Andrews. Most of the low scores on the day came from Kingsbarns, with  Søren Kjeldsen, Richard Bland and Anthony Wall tied in fourth place,  all on -7  under par there.

Defending champion Oliver Wilson had a day to forget as he shot +2 over par 74 at St Andrews.

Things will even themselves out with each player tackling all three courses, with the final round coming from The Old Course St Andrews on Sunday.

 

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Jacquelin Jumps Into Half-way Lead.

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Raphaël Jacquelin jumped into the half-way lead at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, in the wind and rain on Friday.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Raphaël Jacquelin / Getty Images

Raphaël shot a second round -2 under par 70 at Kingsbarns to lead the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a tournament total of -9 under par.

The wind and rain made things more difficult on Friday, but Raphaël was happy with his performance, especially the birdie, birdie finish;

“I’m pretty happy, especially the way I finished, I birdied 17 and 18, so it was good before having dinner and going to rest.” 

“I didn’t play that well, and not as well as yesterday, but it was not that easy, a bit of wind, a bit of rain, a bit of cold as well. I feel good, it’s a long weekend, a lot of golf to play, so the game of golf it’s not that easy.”

There are four players tied in second position, all at -8 under par, three of them played Kingsbarns. Padraig Harrington had a -2 under par 70, Oliver Wilson shot par, while Alexander Levy put together a second round -4 under par 68. That is back to back  rounds of 68 for Alexander.

Padraig wants to get into the Olympics and has set himself that target;

“I think the big one for me, I’ve got to get inside the top 15 in the world to make the Olympics in 2016.”

 “I’ve got 22 months to go. I’m starting at absolute zero probably at the moment. I really feel good about my game, so I believe I can do it.”

Shane Lowery kept himself in touch with the leader carding a -2 under par 70 on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Shane was the only player in the top 12 to play at St Andrews on Friday, which means he will face Carnoustie on Saturday before the final round is contested over The Old Course on Sunday

Shane played well and said the weather was not as bad as the forecast had predicted;

“To be honest, the way I played to shoot two under was quite good. The forecast was pretty bad today and everyone was expecting the worst, but it wasn’t actually that bad.”

“It played quite easy toward the end and I could have picked up a couple more, but I’m happy with the position I’m in with two rounds to go. Hopefully I can go out to Carnoustie tomorrow and hopefully the weather is not too bad over there and I can shoot a decent score.”

World Number One Rory McIlroy carded a -5 under par 67 at Kingsbarns and now has a -4 under par total, five shots off the lead. He would still like to win on Sunday at St. Andrews, but would not mind waiting until next year when he defends his Open title on The Old Course.

“I think the eagle on 16 kick-started something for me, I just went from there, started to knock a few putts in. I felt like I struck the ball pretty well for the first couple of days, but just to see a few putts roll in sort of gave me a little bit of confidence and played well after that.”

“It would mean an awful lot to win at St Andrews. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t mind waiting until July next year.”

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