Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

print article archives RSS

Alfred Dunhill Links Preview

Monday, October 2, 2017

While the Open Championship visits every five years (next due in 2020), those who can’t get enough of St. Andrews are sated every 12 months by the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.


The iconic Old Course is used twice, sharing duties with Kingsbarns and Carnoustie over the first three days and then providing the setting for Sunday’s finale.


Despite amateurs, and some very famous ones at that, sharing the stage this week, it’s a significant one for fantasy managers with the $5m purse a serious step-up on what we’ve seen over the past few months.


As for the format, each pro and his amateur partner play one round at the three venues before both the pro and amateur prizes are decided at the Old Course on Sunday afternoon.


Tyrrell Hatton made the big breakthrough in this tournament last year when shooting 23-under to land his first European Tour win.


For Rory McIlroy, the search for that elusive first victory continues after three second places in this event. He’ll return on the back of another near-miss in last week’s British Masters.




St Andrews – Par 72; 7,307 yards

Carnoustie – Par 72; 7,345 yards

Kingsbarns – Par 72, 7,227 yards


Carnoustie is usually the hardest of the three links courses and gamers may want to take notes this week as it’s the scene of next year’s Open Championship. If the winds lie down, St. Andrews and Kingsbarns can be there for the taking.



Winning scores, winners and stats


2016 -23 Tyrrell Hatton (DD: NA, DA: 27, GIR: 10, Scr: 11, PA: 20)

2015 -18 Thorbjorn Olesen (DD: 32, DA: 52, GIR: 6, Scr: 87, PA: 8)

2014 -17 Oliver Wilson (DD: 64, DA: 89, GIR: 64, Scr: 1, PA: 95)

2013 -23 David Howell (DD: 68, DA: 93, GIR: 10, Scr: 32, PA: 8)

2012 -22 Branden Grace (DD: 26, DA: 112, GIR: 10, Scr: 46, PA: 6)


Notes: Firstly, note that 12 of the 16 winners of this event are GB & Ireland players who know this style of golf and grew up playing in windy and often chilly conditions. Course set-ups are easy to help the celebs so Driving Accuracy isn’t a factor. Four of the last five winners were in the top 10 for Greens In Regulation so that looks the most reliable stat to lean on.



The weather


Regular viewers or attendees of this event know that traditional uniform this week is winter wear and woolly hats. Providing a forecast on Monday (when I’m writing this) can be very foolish given how quickly the weather changes in Scotland but, right now, it’s due to rain on Thursday and Friday before clearing up on the weekend. Winds look very strong on day one (there’s actually a weather warning in place due to high winds today (Monday) but they should quieten as the week goes on. Temperatures? High 50s mostly. Wrap up warm if you’re coming to watch it live.



The Leading Contenders


Rory McIlroy

After shooting the best weekend score (64-63) to surge through the field and finish runner-up at the British Masters last week, the doubts about Rory’s fitness were surely eased right back. He’s got a brilliant record in this event, with three second places (2009, 2011, 2014) and he’s finished outside the top eight in just one of his six starts here. The other question mark over Rory is his ability to play well in bad conditions but he’s toughed it out well in bad-weather Opens in recent years so those fears need to be allayed. Having not yet won in 2017, this is a golden chance to end that drought.


Branden Grace

It was a chastening experience for the International Team at the Presidents Cup but at least Grace emerged from the 19-11 mauling with two points (second best for the visitors) and a fighting half in his singles against World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He famously shot an opening 60 at Kingbarns before going on to score a wire-to-wire win in this event in 2012 although T25 is his best effort in four starts since and he missed the cut last year. The South African reminded us of his links abilities in July when following T15 in the Scottish Open with T6 in the Open Championship where he re-wrote the history books by becoming the first player in the history of the majors to shoot a 62.


Tyrrell Hatton

After a real mid-season slump, Hatton has hit his straps again. A return to Crans-sur-Sierre in the Swiss mountains, one of his favorite venues, got the Englishman back on track and he followed that T3 with T8 at last week’s British Masters although he looked set to deliver more after opening 63-65 to lead by three at halfway. Hatton is the defending champion this week after equalling the course record at St. Andrews with a stunning Saturday 62 last year and he’s got a bunch of good form on links courses including a second place in last year’s Scottish Open and a top five in the 2016 Open.


Shane Lowry

The planets could be aligned for Lowry this week. First, he’s coming right into form again after T7 in last week’s British Masters. Second, he grew up playing links golf and is a proven performer in bad weather. Third, he’s got an eye-catching record in this event with finishes of 3-6-19-18 from 2013-2016. There’s also a fourth: he topped the GIR stats at Close House last week and strong iron play looks key this week.


Tommy Fleetwood

“The most beautiful and proud moment of my life! Franklin Fleetwood born at 12.33 on 28/9/17 at 7pounds 6ounces,” he tweeted last week. Will the ‘nappy factor’ kick in straight away? Well, he probably couldn’t have picked a better tournament to test the theory as Fleetwood’s record is superb. He boasts a second place in 2014, top fives in 2011 and 2013 and top 15s in 2015 and 2016. That includes a 62 at the Old Course. “It’s my favourite course and tournament on the schedule. St Andrews would be a dream course to win on.” After an already sensational year, can the new dad hit another peak?


Matt Fitzpatrick

The Englishman threatened a real challenge at the British Masters before settling for T11 but add that to his European Masters win and he’s 25-under for his last eight rounds. However, unlike the other betting leaders, he can’t bring any course form to the table. Fitzpatrick is having his third start in this tournament and he’s yet to make it to Sunday’s final round. He didn’t show much on the links earlier this summer either when failing to make the top 40 of the Irish, Scottish or British Opens.


Lee Westwood

As tournament host, it was understandable that after two excellent days at the British Masters he would run out of gas a little on the weekend and finish T15. That followed a top three at the KLM Open and T9 at the Czech Masters two starts earlier so he’s in a nice stretch of form again. Westwood won this event way back in 2003 and has had five top 11s since although he’s missed the cut the last two years and there’s a chance he’ll want a quiet week after the hectic one at Close House.


Chris Wood

Wood will be on the radar for plenty of fantasy managers this week and rightly so. He made his reputation with back-to-back top fives in Open Championships (2008 and 2009) and in his last four cracks at this event, the Englishman has form of 4-9-7-15. He again showed his links credentials with T14 in this year’s Open while T9 and T26 in his last two European Tour events could be the platform for another profitable trip to St. Andrews.


Paul Dunne

Finally, we can now refer to him as the winner of the British Masters 2017 rather than the bloke who led the 2015 Open at St. Andrews after 54 holes when still an amateur. But combine those two descriptions and it’s easy to see while he’ll be a popular pick this week: he’s in form and plays links golf well.


Martin Kaymer

It hardly made the headlines but Kaymer’s T20 at last week’s British Masters was his best finish since T16 at Augusta National so in terms of restoring confidence his Close House performance (included two 66s) could be pivotal. Now he heads to Scotland and a tournament he won in 2010, finished runner-up in 2008 and, more recently, posted T6 last year. After weeks of being a ‘one to swerve’ candidate, Kaymer deserves a close look here.

continue story »
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
Email :Dave Tindall

Highest Searched Golfers over the last 7 days

Video Center

    Dose: Wentz returns for PHI

    Dose: Wentz returns for PHI
    Dose: Mahomes dazzles

    Dose: Mahomes dazzles
    Player News: Week 2

    Player News: Week 2
    SNF Success for Engram?

    SNF Success for Engram?
    Dose: Green Dominates

    Dose: Green Dominates
    MLB: Find Frazier

    MLB: Find Frazier
    Dose: Gruden supports Carr

    Dose: Gruden supports Carr
    Dose: Olsen

    Dose: Olsen's injury