• Ryder Cup stars McIlroy, Kaymer, Dubuisson & Gallacher also play
• Paul McGinley to tee it up after master-minding Gleneagles glory
• Tournament gets underway on Thursday morning
Britain’s most successful golfer Sir Nick Faldo is set to play in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The six-time major winner joins Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer – winners of three of the four major championships in 2014 – in the field for the pro-am event, which takes place across the St Andrews’ Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie from Thursday.
Faldo, 57, won the second of this three Open Championship in St Andrews in 1990 and is excited about the prospect of returning to the game’s birthplace.
“It was great for me to go to St Andrews then, on a sunny and breezy day, and win after winning the Masters that April,” he recalled. “I had enough of a lead to really enjoy the walk up 18 and the crowd arena.
“The feelings and the images are clear in my mind and very special. The town has its own special buzz and of course it is the ‘Home of Golf’ and I feel that.”
Having also played in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen earlier in the summer, Faldo added he is looking forward to taking on three of the country’s most revered courses.
“Obviously, St. Andrews is special,” he said. “Carnoustie is always tough, so I hope to catch a break there, and Kingsbarns is the modern version of a links course. Each is enjoyable in its own way.”
The Englishman will tee it up in Scotland fresh from commentating at the Ryder Cup where he caused a media storm by criticising Sergio Garcia.
As well as McIlroy and Kaymer, two more of the Spaniard’s teammates – Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher – will also feature this week, as will victorious European captain Paul McGinley and one of his vice-captains, Padraig Harrington.
Major men: South African trio Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els will play the Alfred Dunhill Links this week.
The 'Cool' Monty: Colin Montgomerie returns to the 'Home of Golf' in fine form after winning two senior majors this summer.
More major champions, in the shape of Ernie Els, Sandy Lyle, Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and David Duval, will also feature, whilst two-time senior major winner Colin Montgomerie will be back on home soil, too.
“The two wins in America were big for me, to finally win two majors,” said the Scot. “I think I’ve got my confidence back again and I’m holing putts. I think the iron shots, the putting, the chipping is as good as it ever was. In fact, I think it’s almost better. I’m really looking forward to the Alfred Dunhill Links.”
Man to beat: Can David Howell become the first player ever to successfully defend the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship?
Englishman David Howell returns to St Andrews, hoping to become the first golfer to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links titles.
He said: “It will be lovely to come back as defending champion. It’s a real privilege and I shall enjoy every moment of it. The win last year was a long time coming, seven years after my previous win, and I could not have wished for a better place to do it than St Andrews.”
Among the celebrity amateurs playing are film and TV stars Hugh Grant, Damian Lewis, Greg Kinnear and Kyle MacLachlan, rock legends Don Felder, Huey Lewis and Tico Torres and many great sporting idols including Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Brian O’Driscoll, Sir Steve Redgrave, Tim Henman and Damon Hill.
See Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy & Co this week
Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to see Sir Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy and the rest of the star field, will be free at all three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £20 (concessionary £15) will be charged for the final day’s play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 5. Entry for under-16s and students is free. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0844 581 4922 or at the entrance gates.