Thomas Pieters admits it is a “weird feeling” to return to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as a Ryder Cup star just two years after a strong finish at this event helped him solidify his European Tour card.
The big-hitting Belgian was the leading scorer on either side at Hazeltine National last week, winning four points from five matches in his first Ryder Cup.
Pieters is one of six members of Darren Clarke’s team in Scotland for this week’s tournament, with Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick and Rafael Cabrera Bello also teeing it up.
Two years ago, Pieters finished in a share of 18th place when he made his debut at the US$5 million event, which is played as a Pro-Am on three of the world’s finest links courses in St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
The 24 year old has been paired with Johann Rupert, Chairman of the Organising Committee, whilst keen Sheffield United fan Fitzpatrick has former Portugal and Real Madrid footballer Luis Figo as his playing partner, and Cabrera Bello will team up with Dermot Desmond, the Irish businessman who part owns Celtic FC.
Other Major Champions in the field include two-time winner Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Trevor Immelman and Y.E.Yang. Also playing are former winner and world No.14 Branden Grace, leading Irish golfer Shane Lowry, Andrew Johnston, now universally known as ‘Beef’, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the Alfred Dunhill Links incorporates an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers and a team championship in which the professionals are paired with the amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.
Among the amateur players are Hollywood stars Jamie Dornan, Andy Garcia, Matthew Goode, Hugh Grant, Greg Kinnear and Kyle MacLachlan.
Returning to St Andrews will be music giants Ronan Keating, Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi’s Tico Torres, while Linkin Park’s David Farrell and former Westlife lead singer Brian McFadden are playing for the first time.
There are also many great sporting legends in the field, including footballers Michael Ballack, winner of the Team Championship last year, and Ruud Gullit, cricketers Sir Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan, Shane Warne, Kevin Pietersen, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis, Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave, record-breaking jump jockey A.P.McCoy and Formula One world champion Damon Hill.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which takes place from October 6-9, celebrates links golf at its finest and is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links
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: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/alfred-dunhill-links-championship-tickets-25844992067
European Tour www.europeantour.com
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship http://alfreddunhilllinks.com/