After another world class renewal of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the European Tour remains in Britain for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The atmosphere in Scotland will be much more relaxed than it was at Wentworth as each of the competing professionals is paired up with an amateur teammate.
Tommy Fleetwood is one of the biggest names in the field for this year’s tournament. He always enjoys this tournament and copes with its intricacies better than most. Fleetwood has gone very close to winning on numerous occasions and can go all the way to claim his fifth European Tour win at odds of 18/1 with Ladbrokes.
The main draw of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is that it takes place at three of the very best links golf courses in the world. The field is split over the Old Course Carnoustie and Kingsbarns during the first three days of play before those who make the cut return to St Andrews for the final round.
Generally speaking, it’s Carnoustie which plays as the most difficult of the three courses. As ever with links golf though much will depend on the weather. The wind isn’t set to be overly strong but it is going to be very wet which will take continual management on the part of the caddies. That challenge is only enhanced by the slow pace of play that comes with playing in fourballs, two of which are amateurs.
|St Andrews||Fife, Scotland||7,307 Yards||$5,000,000|
|Carnoustie||Angus, Scotland||7,412 Yards|
|Kingsbarns||Fife, Scotland||7,150 Yards|
Previous links golf experience is vital for any player with hopes of winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Each of the five most recent winners had already shown an ability to play in the wind and deal with the short game challenge thrown down by the three host courses.
The four players below also had to putt very well on the weeks of their victories. Despite the mental challenge that comes with the incredibly slow pace of play and adapting to a different course every day, this is an event where scoring is typically very slow as the courses are set up as generously as possible to aid the amateurs.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Lucas Bjerregaard||-15||1 Stroke|
|2017||Tyrrell Hatton||-24||3 Strokes|
|2016||Tyrrell Hatton||-23||4 Strokes|
|2015||Thorbjorn Olesen||-18||2 Strokes|
|2014||Oliver Wilson||-17||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Hardy, Quality Ball Strikers to Thrive
The favourable way the courses are set up for the Alfred Dunhill Championship means that it can often be something of a putting competition. It should be different this year with some pretty challenging weather. The wind will just about be strong enough to make an impact on scoring but it’s the rain that should have the biggest impact. Wet, receptive greens will help the best ball strikers but only if they have the mental strength to cope with long waits on the tees and putt well.
Fleetwood Can Finally Convert
Tommy Fleetwood loves the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He made his debut in the tournament in 2011 and hasn’t missed a renewal since. In that time he’s gone from a European Tour struggler to one of the world’s premier golfers but his suitability to this event was clear even in 2011 when he finished fifth.
Three further top three finishes at the Alfred Dunhill have earned Fleetwood a lot of money and given him a lot of fun on the course but he’ll also be frustrated not to have won the tournament yet. That may all change this week.
Fleetwood hasn’t actually been performing at the peak of his powers in recent weeks. A complete change in the style of golf required and the more relaxed atmosphere of the Alfred Dunhill Links could be just what Fleetwood needs to give his game a boost and finally claim his first win in this tournament at generous odds of 18/1 with Ladbrokes.
Fisher Too Big to Ignore
Ross Fisher has his own piece of history at the Old Course. He holds the course record with an incredible score of 61 but he somehow left that final round in 2017 with disappointment to have missed out on the magical 59 number.
The Old Course can be a little defenceless when the wind lays down but even so you don’t nearly break 60 there without being a seriously good proponent of links golf. That round propelled Fisher to second place, the same finished he achieved the year before. Although his game isn’t quite where he’d like to be heading back to St Andrews, Fisher is more than capable of rediscovering his best stuff to contend again at 80/1 with Betfair.
Final Verdict: Tommy Fleetwood to Win
Tommy Fleetwood has more links golf experience than most in the field. Much of that came in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he has played very well before. He’s not yet been able to get over the line but can do so this year so back him to win at 18/1 with Ladbrokes. Those looking for a longer odds bet should consider the 80/1 that Betfair are quoting on Ross Fisher for an each way betting option.
About Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was founded in 2001. In the inaugural event, Scotsman Paul Lawrie prevailed, beating South African Ernie Els by a single stroke. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is played over three of Scotland’s best known golf courses: St Andrews (Old Course), Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links. The Dunhill Links is the only major tournament to be held at St Andrews each year.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship contains two separate competitions. There is an individual tournament for 168 of the leading golfers as well as a Team Championship event, which allows amateurs to play alongside the professionals.
Many great players have played in this competition, including Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy and Colin Montgomerie. The event also attracts plenty of interest from celebrities, business leaders and amateurs from all over the world. Top names from the world of sport, music and even Hollywood get involved, making it a fascinating event for the spectators.
Home of Golf
The Old Course at St Andrews is considered by many historians as the oldest golf course in the world, and it holds legendary status amongst the golfing fraternity. The course in Fife, Scotland has become known as ‘The Home of Golf’ and its allure is plain to see, both for the many professionals who jump at the chance to play there and for the celebs who fancy showing what they can do on the most famous course in the world. Golf has been played over these links for hundreds of years, as early as the 15th century.
Carnoustie Golf Links is another historic course in Scotland, with it also being one of the venues of The Open Championship, which was last held at the course in Angus in 2018. The other Alfred Dunhill Links Championship course is Kingsbarns. This seaside course opened in 2000 and has quickly become one of the best golf venues in Scotland, though obviously it crouches somewhat in the shadows of the more illustrious duo of courses with which it sharing hosting duties for this tournament.
Hatton’s Back-to-back Wins
Not many golfers have had the privilege of winning this tournament on more than one occasion. In fact, only two players have managed to win The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship twice. Irishman Padraig Harrington was the first, following up his 2002 victory with a second triumph in 2006.
In recent years, Tyrrell Hatton has been the most successful player of the Scottish event. Hatton is the only man to have retained the trophy, winning in 2016 and 2017. Hatton’s first win was a four-stroke success over Ross Fisher and Richard Sterne. A year later, the Buckinghamshire-born man edged out Fisher once again to secure his second title. Hatton also holds the record tournament score of a quite magnificent 24 under par.
Hatton has two other European Tour wins to his name, the Italian Open in 2017 and the Turkish Airlines Open in 2019. In March 2020 he gained his first tournament victory on the PGA Tour when he landed the highly sought-after Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. His final score of four under par was enough to hold off the challenge of runner-up Marc Leishman, whom he beat by a single stroke.
Not only do the world’s best golfers take part, plenty of celebrity amateurs have provided superb entertainment over the years. Actors like Hugh Grant, Morgan Freeman and Samuel L Jackson – among several others familiar faces – have all participated in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
A number of sporting icons have also had a go in this tournament, including Sir Steve Redgrave, Gary Linekar, Ruud Gullit, Boris Becker, Nigel Mansell and Shane Warne. In 2019, singer Justin Timberlake even made an appearance.
First French Winner
In the 2019 tournament, Victor Perez became the first Frenchman to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Perez won the competition with one of the most exciting finishes in the event’s history.
Perez, who lives close to Dundee, had a tournament to remember in Scotland. The French ace was involved in a fierce battle with Englishman Matthew Southgate, nicking the tournament by one stroke. The win at St Andrews remains Perez’s only European Tour victory to date, though he has mustered a couple of wins on the Challenge Tour.
This event has produced various winners from all over the globe. Recent winners have come from France (Victor Perez in 2019) and Denmark (Lucas Bjerregaard in 2018), while South African Branden Grace won the tournament in 2012. However, 11 of the 19 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships have been won by Britons.
As mentioned, Tyrell Hatton is the most successful Brit with two wins to his name, while the likes of Oliver Wilson, David Howell, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood have also lifted the trophy in Scotland. Prior to Swede Robert Karlsson’s victory in 2008, each of the first seven tournaments were won by players from Britain or Ireland. Three of the first five were won by Scots, although there has not been a home winner since Colin Montgomerie prevailed way back in 2005.
British Winners of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
|2001||Paul Lawrie (Scotland)|
|2003||Lee Westwood (England)|
|2004||Stephen Gallacher (Scotland)|
|2005||Colin Montgomerie (Scotland)|
|2007||Nick Dougherty (England)|
|2009||Simon Dyson (England)|
|2011||Michael Hoey (Northern Ireland)|
|2013||David Howell (England)|
|2014||Oliver Wilson (England)|
|2016||Tyrell Hatton (England)|
|2017||Tyrell Hatton (England)|