Saturday, October 06, 2012


 Unless something remarkable happens on the Old Course tomorrow, South Africa’s Branden Grace will take the Alfred Dunhill Links Champion ship trophy back to South Africa.
For a moment today it looked as if Grace might after all be caught as Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen edged ever closer to him, but by the end of play the South African had opened up a lead of four after surviving his Carnoustie test with a third round 69 for a 20-under-par total.
Grace had led by six with just four holes to play when the old terrier of Carnoustie reared up and bit him. A double bogey 6 when he drove into a fairway bunker interrupted what was beginning to look like a victory parade. 
Almost simultaneously Olesen birdied the 14th at Kingsbarns and for the first time in three days, Grace was beginning to look vulnerable. However Olesen himself suffered a double bogey 6 on the 17th at Kingsbarns and once again Grace was back in control.
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.
Now 24-year-old Grace and 22-year-old Olesen will go out in the last group tomorrow on the Old Course to fight it out for the US$800,000 first prize, with Swedes Frederik Andersson Hed and Alexander Noren one shot further back, then Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Joel Sjoholm another shot behind them.

Grace said: “I think the way I'm playing, you never know what's going to happen on the day.  I think if I keep hitting the ball like I am and make the putts like I am then anything is possible. Thorbjorn is one hell of a player and he's shown in the past that he can play with the big names as well and he's not going to fall under pressure. 
“Everything depends on the weather.  If we have a great day tomorrow, it's going to be a low scoring round, and if the weather turns bad on us and the wind starts blowing, you'll never know what St Andrews has got for us. I've dreamed of picking up a trophy on that bridge on the 18th, so maybe this time tomorrow, it may happen,” he added.
Olesen, who had a 68 at Kingsbarns, said: “I shot four-under-par, which is a good score, but I am  disappointed. It could easily have been minus six or seven today. 
"Branden is at 20-under. He’s a great player, but I’m going to do my best. I am looking forward to getting to St Andrews tomorrow. I find the greens at St Andrews easy to read. I had a tough time today reading the greens.”
Stephen Gallacher, champion in 2004, showed his liking for the competition with a terrific 65 at Kingsbarns, including an eagle two at the 17th where he holed his second shot, to hoist himself back into the reckoning at 14-under-par. 
He said: “It was a 5-iron from 200 yards. I didn’t see it go in, I was totally blind, but they were jumping around, so I knew it was in. Then I had a birdie on the last hole so it really gets me back into the hunt. I think we’re all playing for second place, but who knows in golf.  I've just got to keep to my own game and see what happens.”
Partnering the professionals are an enthusiastic group of talented amateur golfers, who compete for the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship.  Hollywood stars Bill Murray, forever remembered by golf fans for his role as the greenkeeper in the film Caddyshack, and Greg Kinnear have joined rock music legends Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, along with a host of great sports stars, including Olympic and Paralympic gold medal heroes Michael Phelps and Oscar Pistorius.
In a strong turn- out of sports stars, Phelps and Pistorius have been joined by former Olympic rowing legends Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave, football greats Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Alan Hansen and Jamie Redknapp, plus a strong team of cricketers in Sir Ian Botham, Allan Lamb, Brian Lara, Andrew Strauss, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne. Rugby is also represented by Schalk Brits, Morné du Plessis and Gavin Hastings.
With one round to go, American businessman Hugh Connerty and Thai professional Thongchai Jaidee lead the Team Championship on 33-under-par after a team score of 60 at Kingsbarns.
 They are five shots ahead of Alexander Noren and Ernesto Bertarelli, the man behind the America’s Cup winning team Alinghi. Two shots further back are professional Ashley Hall and South African property developer Gary Hackner.
Olympians Phelps, who was playing with Paul Casey, and Pistorius, playing with Paul McGinley, both missed the cut in the Team Championship, but said they enjoyed their experience so much that they want to return. 
South African Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner because he competes on carbon fibre blades and who this year became the first Paralympian to take part in an Olympic Games, said: “Playing in this tournament has been phenomenal and even better than I expected it to be.”
Phelps is still reliving the astonishing 53-yard putt that he sank at Kingsbarns, during his second round, and said: “I will never forget it. I just tried to get it to the top of the rise in the green and I couldn’t believe it when it then ran down the other side and all the way into the hole. I just had to give a bit of a Tiger-esque fist pump!”



-4 Richie Ramsay
-4 Craig Lee
-3 Paul Lawrie
-3 George Murray
-3 Peter Whiteford
-2 Martin Laird
+5 Alastair Forsyth
+5 Gary Orr       



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