Thursday, September 29, 2011


St ANDREWS – It was not the Old Course, but it was near enough, as South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen revived memories of his dazzling Open Championship victory 14 months ago by taking a share of the first-round lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
At Kingsbarns, 20 minutes down the road from the setting for his greatest triumph in July 2010, Oosthuizen shot a six-under-par 66, along with Austria’s Markus Brier, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey to lead by one from a group of six players which includes former US Open champion Graeme McDowell.
Queuing up a further shot back on 68 are some of the big names of golf, including world No 2 Lee Westwood, defending champion Martin Kaymer, Scottish hero Colin Montgomerie, three-time major championship winner Padraig Harrington and talented English youngster Tom Lewis, who made such an impact as an amateur in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s and is playing in only his second professional event.
The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.
On a day made for good scoring with a hot sun, it was the positive golf of Oosthuizen which caught the eye. His 66 included seven birdies and just one bogey and he said that returning to St Andrews had given him inspiration. “There's nothing better than holding the Claret Jug at St. Andrews. Hopefully by the end of the week, it will just be a different trophy. It was so nice to come back and experience everything again.”
He is playing with his brother Rikus in the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship and said: “It was good fun playing a practice round at St Andrews yesterday with my brother. I showed him where some of my shots ended up (during the Open) and things like that. It's a nice, relaxing week and I'm glad that he's here with me. This is a great event.”
Michael Hoey catapulted himself into a share of the lead with a prodigious drive onto the 18th green at the Old Course before holing a 40-foot putt for an eagle 2. He said:
“We knew it was in range because it was downwind and I hit a great drive. I couldn’t have got it any further. I was thinking just hit the putt with good pace and it came off perfect and tracked all the way.”
His Northern Ireland compatriot Graeme McDowell, playing at Kingsbarns, had a disappointing bogey 6 at the 12th in his 67, but he was generally happy with his position and with his day. He said:
“It's nice to be back. It’s good to catch up with some of the lads. I miss them when I'm out there in the States. I missed the camaraderie here on the European Tour. It was good playing alongside Simon Dyson today.”
Tom Lewis could have shared the lead in just his second professional event, but for an agonising double bogey 7 on his last hole, the 10th, at Kingsbarns. Lewis, just 20, said he looked on it as a learning experience.
“The standard's good. If I play well, like I showed for 17 holes, you can be right at the top of the leaderboard, but it shows that if you make a mistake, you can drop a lot. I'm disappointed in my finish, but four under is not going to leave me too far behind the leader. So hopefully I can shoot a good score tomorrow,” he said.
Partnering the professionals are an enthusiastic group of talented amateur golfers, who compete for the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship.
Celebrities from the world of entertainment playing this year include film and TV stars Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant and John O’Hurley. Also taking part are rock music legends Don Felder of the Eagles, Huey Lewis and Bon J ovi drummer Tico Torres, plus popular radio presenter Chris Evans.
A quartet of Britain’s sporting knights – Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave - lead a locker room full of sporting heroes, including Dutch football legends Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, former England player Jamie Redknapp and Scottish defender Alan Hansen.
A strong team of cricketers have teed up this week. In addition to Sir Ian Botham, there is current England captain Andrew Strauss and former captain Michael Vaughan, England Test players Allan Lamb and Mark Nicholas, plus Steve Waugh and Shane Warne of Australia.
The immensely popular former British tennis No 1 Tim Henman is back, along with rugby giant Morné du Plessis and Austrian downhill ski legend Franz Klammer.
The first round leaders in the Team Championship on 11-under-par are French pro Romain Wattel, Don St Pierre and Michael Hoey and William Farish junior. Both pairings played on the Old Course.
St Pierre, an importer of wine into China, said: “I have a great partner, Romain was fantastic. He’s French so with me being in the wine business we had a lot to talk about. I hit some great shots and just kept it together. I didn’t get too nervous and I had a great local caddie too.
"I practised on the Old Course yesterday. The day before was the first day I’d ever played in Scotland when I played at Kingsbarns, so I’m a real rookie to this whole thing.
"Overall the single highlight was the Road Hole. I hit a good drive. I pushed my second shot, but I hit a really good putt off the side of the green and I made a five footer for par.”
Rock star Huey Lewis and Simon Dyson are two shots behind. Lewis said:
“I’ve not played with Simon before. He’s a lovely guy with a great game and he showed today why he’s on course to become a Ryder Cup player next year. My own game? Well, I played right handed.”
Philip Kaymer, who is on the bag of his father Horst Kaymer who is playing with his other son, defending champion Martin Kaymer, is on six-under-par. He said:
“I thoroughly enjoyed today. It is obviously very nice for him to be playing with Martin in the team competition. I myself played in this event in 2008, so it is nice for my father to have a chance to play as well and he played OK today. Martin and I finished 12th when we played together so he has a bit of a target to aim for.”
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne played in one of the liveliest groups of the day, partnering Peter O’Malley, and sharing a fou-rball with 1995 Open champion John Daly and Sir Ian Botham. Finishing on two-under-par, he said: “We had a great four-ball. I’m very good friends with all three of the guys and have known John for 16 years. I’ve played with Beefy [Ian Botham] before and my good friend Peter O’Malley. It was great fun as always. Peter played extremely well o n the back nine. As always, we all probably left a few shots out there.”


CARNOUSTIE - Perthshire Ladies European Tour prospect Carly Booth ditched her clubs for a golf bag today as she took up caddieing duties for radio presenter D J Spooney in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie.
When the radio presenter's caddie pulled out, the 19-year-old former Curtis Cup amateur from Comrie  - who made her debut on the European Tour last season - offered to step into the breach.
Carly said: "I've known Spooney for a couple of years and this year we did the Golf Live event together. We're always in contact through Twitter. I'm a member at Carnoustie and I thought I might be a bit of a help on the bag. When Spooney's other caddie dropped out, I was his replacement.
"It was great to see all the players and be part of the Dunhill this week. Caddieing is very different, but I don't mind it. I'm learning, so I'll be much better tomorrow."
Spooney, whose real name is Johnathan Joseph, partnered rookie professional Jack Senior, who played in the recent Walker Cup-winning team, in the first round, who posted a superb three-under par round of 69.
He said: "It was good, we played well. Jack, in his first professional tournament, played brilliant. He has a very big future.
"Everyone says Carnoustie is the hardest, but it's a beautiful course, a very traditional links and it's always a joy to play. If you get to play it in weather like this, then shooting six under is a bonus.
"I have played in the Dunhill a few times and many other Pro-Ams. But this is the biggest and best Pro-Am in the world. I was a tad nervous hitting my first tee shot off the tenth today, but there's no place I'd rather be."





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