World No.1 Rory McIlroy has confirmed his participation in this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The four-time major winner will join Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer in Fife the week after they try to help Europe retain the iconic gold trophy at Gleneagles.
For McIlroy, it will be his first appearance in the popular pro-am tournament – played over St Andrews’ Old Course, Carnoustie’s Championship Course and Kingsbarns Golf Links – since 2010.
It was there, in 2007, that he finished third just weeks after turning professional to secure his European Tour card. He was tied eighth the following year and joint runner-up in 2009 before finishing tied for 53rd in 2010.
That same year, Kaymer ran out the winner, seeing off England’s Danny Willett by three shots to claim what was his eighth European Tour win. He went on to win the Race to Dubai that year and, by the end of February 2011, had taken over the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Between them, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy have won two of the four majors this year: the former claimed the US Open at Pinehurst, whilst the latter won the Open and PGA Championship.
No player has ever won the title back-to-back since the event launched in 2001.
Kaymer also currently holds the so-called ‘fifth major’, the Players Championship at Sawgrass.
The duo will be joined in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by their European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, as well as major champions Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Double senior major winner Colin Montgomerie, a winner of this event in 2005, will also be in the field, as will 2004 champion Stephen Gallacher, another of Europe’s Ryder Cup team this year.
The man they all have to beat is defending champion David Howell. Incredibly, no player has ever won the title back-to-back since the event launched in 2001. That, though, a trend that Howell is determined to buck this year.
“It will be lovely to come back as defending champion,” said the Englishman. “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.”
See Rory McIlroy and Co. in the Alfred Dunhill Links
Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to see Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and the rest of the all-star cast 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.