Four-time Major Championship winner Ernie Els heads a world-class field in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
The popular South African, who has won The Open Championship and the US Open Championship on two occasions, will be bidding for his first victory in the event, which takes place from September 26-29.
Els leads an impressive cast which includes no fewer than 12 Major Champions: Rich Beem (2002 US PGA Championship 2002), Michael Campbell (2005 US Open Championship), Darren Clarke (2011 Open Championship), Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004 US Open Championship), Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008 Open Championship, and 2008 US PGA Championship), Martin Kaymer (2010 US PGA Championship), Paul Lawrie (1999 Open Championship), Shaun Micheel (2003 US PGA Championship), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open Championship), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters Tournament) and Vijay Singh (2000 Masters Tournament, and 19998 and 2004 US PGA Championship).
Defending champion Branden Grace will also be returning to St Andrews, hoping to become the first golfer to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links Championships.
Oosthuizen will also return to the scene of his greatest triumph in 2010, when the South African produced one of golf’s great performances by storming to victory in The Open Championship at a windswept St Andrews by a staggering seven strokes.
He said: “St Andrews always a special place for me anyway, but after my win there in 2010 it meant everything to me to know that I’d always be part of its history. So I always enjoy going back. I like to have fun out on the golf course, and the format at the Dunhill certainly lends itself to that.”
Harrington will be seeking a remarkable third Alfred Dunhill links Championship title, having won both the individual professionals’ event and the team championship in partnership with Irish businessman and racehorse owner JP McManus in 2002 and again in 2006.
Harrington said: “St Andrews is a very special place, and I am delighted to have won there twice. When I won in 2006, I knew on the 18th that I was in a comfortable position. Walking up the fairway knowing that I was going to win the tournament is a memory that will live with me forever. It was really something to savour.”
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which celebrates links golf at its finest, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses: the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly-regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions – an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers, and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers, thereby creating a unique atmosphere.
The amateurs who have competed in the Championship in recent years include film and TV stars Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant and Kyle MacLachlan, and sporting heroes Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Tim Henman, Sir Ian Botham and Shane Warne.
Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be free at all three courses for the first three days of the tournament. A ticket price of £20 (concessionary £15) will be charged for the final day’s play over the Old Course on Sunday September 29. Entry for under-16s and students is free. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0870 010 9021, or at the gates.