Four days. Three courses. Way too many C-list celebrities and some very brightly-coloured pants. The world’s best links golfers – and least recognisable personalities – tee it up on Thursday for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the chance of a $5m booty.
Branden Grace led from pillar to post after shooting a course record 60 on day one last year and looks to become the first golfer to win back-to-back tournaments. Padraig Harrington is the only player to have won this twice (2002, 2006) and a player with GB or IRE after their name has won nine times in 12 years – but three of the last five were from Europe or South Africa.
Now Paddy’s never been known to shun the limelight and is playing the first SIX home in a tournament that’s got more entertainment value than watching Hugh Grant spend 20 minutes hacking it out of the sand.
Top Six being backed as of noon, Wednesday,September 25.
1. Martin Kaymer 20/1
The former World No1 won this in 2010 and was T32 at the Open Championship earlier this year. Has five top 10s on the European Tour this season but hasn’t picked up the over-sized winner’s cheque since 2011 but has yet to miss the cut here in five attempts. Steve Palmer’s top tip in the Racing Post.
2. Charl Schwartzel 22/1
The only player in the field who navigated all the FedEx Cup playoffs to the final round in Atlanta. The South African picked up almost $500k in prize money Stateside where he highest finish was T8 at the BMW Championship. Won the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2010 and is looking for his ninth European Tour win.
3. Richard Sterne 28/1
Been dividing his time between the European Tour and the States and has six Top 10 finishes to his name this season. Won the Jo’burg Open in February and finished T21 behind Phil Mickelson at Muirfield and warmed up for this when T13 at the Omega European Masters two weeks ago behind Thomas Bjorn. Best placed finish was sixth here in 2003. Next best from Mr Palmer.
4. Alvaro Quiros 50/1
Could struggle to pick him out of a line-up but the Spaniard seems to be hitting form at the right time. Was just outside the top 20 in the KLM Open and finished eighth at the Italian Open last week. Well up in the driving distance and Greens in Regulation charts in Holland and was bombing it off the tee again in Italy. Hasn’t set this tournament on fire in his past few starts but heading in the right direction to change that.
5. Simon Dyson 28/1
The lanky English pro has had more back problems than Sunderland’s defence but finished T3 at the KLM Open (a winner there in 2009, 2011) two weeks ago. A winner here in 2009, there’s plenty nibbling at the 28/1 that lightning could strike twice.
6. Ernie Els 33/1
Despite being the guv’nor of links golf, the Big Easy has never won this tournament in 11 attempts. A two-time Open Championship winner he finished T26 at Muirfield and won his 28th European Tour event when capturing the BMW Interrnational in Germany last June. Will forget more about links golf than most will ever know and if his game clicks at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns he looks a leading contender.
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