A star-studded cast of professionals and amateurs alike will line up on three of the world's top links courses this week for the inaugural Dunhill Links Championship, a new tournament on The European Tour International Schedule, conceived as a celebration of Links golf.
The Dunhill Links Championship, which carries a total prize fund of US$5million, will be decided over The Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie, the Championship course and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links, which opened last year.
Leading the professional cast is the current leader of the Volvo Order of Merit Retief Goosen, who won the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond on his last visit north of the border. The reigning US Open champion has an excellent record at St Andrews in the Alfred Dunhill Cup where he won ten successive individual matches, a feat surpassed only by Greg Norman.
Goosen is joined by his team-mate from the victorious 1997 and 1998 South African team - Ernie Els, the current World Number Four and twice US Open champion. Els, of course, finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in the Open Championship at St Andrews last year alongside Thomas Björn, who is also in the field this week.
Another Major champion in the field is Scotland's Paul Lawrie, who is sure to be relishing a return to Carnoustie and the scene of his 1999 Open Championship triumph. Jean Van de Velde, defeated by Lawrie in a play-off at Carnoustie, is also in action.
Other Major champions in the field include José Maria Olazábal, who formed part of the winning Spanish team in the Alfred Dunhill Cup in both 1999 and 2000, Sandy Lyle, and Steve Elkington, the man who defeated Colin Montgomerie in a sudden-death play-off for the 1995 US PGA Championship.
Montgomerie is back in front of the home fans this week along with compatriots Andrew Coltart and Andrew Oldcorn, all winners on the 2001 European Tour International Schedule.
The line-up of amateurs includes Hollywood film stars Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell and Samuel L Jackson as well as Kyle MacLachlan, Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, and Country and Western star Clay Walker. From the world of sport Sir Steven Redgrave, Ian Botham, Gavin Hastings, Kapil Dev, Sir Bobby Charlton, Zinzan Brooke, Kenny Dalglish, Gary Lineker, Nigel Mansell, Marco van Basten, Franz Klammer and Nasser Hussain are all set to play.
A total of 156 teams of one professional and one amateur will contest the first three rounds with one round being played at each of the three links courses in rotation. Two competitions will be played concurrently - Professional Individual and Team.
The team score will be the best net score of the two members at each hole. After 54 holes the field will be reduced to the leading 60 professionals and ties plus the 20 leading teams, all of whom will play the final round over the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Prize money will be US$ 5 million with US$ 4,800,000 rewarding the leading 70 pros based on their individual scores and a further US$ 200,000 for the professionals on the leading 20 teams. First place in the individual competition will be US$ 800,000.