Sunday, October 04, 2015

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship ends at St Andre


ST ANDREWS: Football legend Michael Ballack only met his fellow German professional partner Florian Fritsch ten minutes before they teed off together at the start of the 15th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but, four days later, they were celebrating after being crowned winners of the Team Championshi
Former Bayern Munich and Chelsea star Ballack, who scored 42 goals in 98 appearances for Germany, said: “We had never met before but Florian helped me out a lot and it has been a tremendous four days.

" I was particularly emotional after our great third round at Kingsbarns and I knew we would be playing in the last group out in the final round.”
Fritsch, a 29-year-old from Munich who turned professional in 2009 and won an additional US$50,000 for taking the Team Championship, said: “It’s amazing. I get to play golf with someone I have watched on television for pretty much all my life, and I get to play with him on my own turf.

" He’s someone I have always looked up to as a footballer and as a great sportsman.”
Ballack and Fritsch came out on top of the team event with an overall score of 40-under-par, following a last round 62 on the Old Course at St Andrews. But it was a close-run thing. The German pair needed to birdie both the last two holes to get past Englishmen Chris Wood and his amateur partner Mark Madden, a former polo professional playing in the event for the first time as a 40th birthday gift from his wife Masa.
Wood, who shot a final round 65, and Madden were the long-time clubhouse leaders with their team score of 39 under par, but they were pipped at the last. Ballack, playing with an 18 handicap, rolled in a par putt on St Andrews’ iconic 18th green for a net birdie – after Fritsch had missed with his own birdie attempt
Ballack added: “It looked good for us for a long time today, and I thought we were leading comfortably but suddenly another team was leading and we had a bogey and double-bogey early on in the back nine. 

" So we had to get two birdies in the last two holes, but somehow we did it and it was a great experience. As an amateur, you just enjoy the moment here. It's not about winning, it's just about being part of a great tournament. It was really special.
“Footballers are used to playing in front of 50,000-60,000 people, but this is different. My hands were shaky at times out there, but Florian saved me a few times when I had to pick up my ball and I did get more confident as we went on. "But this is a different kind of pressure to what I am used to in football.”
Television presenter and former cricketer Mark Nicholas qualified for the first time in 14 appearances to play in the final round, as one of the leading 20 teams, and finished tied for fifth with his professional partner, young Swede Joakim Lagergren, after rolling in an eight-foot putt for a net birdie three on the intimidating 17th Road Hole.
Other celebrities featuring in the top 20 teams were rock star Huey Lewis, Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll and 11-times former world surfing champion Kelly Slater, who played with individual tournament winner Thorbjorn Olesen and birdied the 18th to add to the scenes of celebration at the Home of Golf.



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