Lucas Bjerregaard tees off in the Open Championship at Portrush on Thursday encouraged by his impressive victory in last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links, and his win over Tiger Woods in the quarter-final of the WGC-Dell Matchplay in February.
Bjerregaard said: “Winning the Alfred Dunhill Links last year was one of the biggest weeks I've had in my career. Winning got me close to the top 50 in the world, which has given me some great opportunities this year, to play at Augusta and a lot of the big events. It’s really taken my career to the next step.
“Playing Tiger was also pretty special. He's an idol of mine and has always been as I grew up. So just to play with him was big. I know no one was expecting me to beat him, but then as we got further and further on all of a sudden some people were starting to chant my name. To beat him was really special and I've taken a lot of confidence from that.”
Like many in the field, Bjerregaard has not previously played Portrush, but he showed in the Alfred Dunhill Links last October that he knows how to win over links courses.
“I’ve played once before in The Open, at St George’s in 2011 as an amateur, so it’s been a little while, but I’m looking forward to it. I've never been to Portrush before, but hearing Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell talk about it, it definitely sounds like it's going to be a good event.
“I'm happy we don't play links every week, it would drive me absolutely insane with all the bounces and the wind and how difficult it can be, but I absolutely love the few weeks a year that we do. From the pictures I've seen, Portrush looks just like it was when they built the course, so it’s going to be fun.”
Bjerregaard, who beat Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton by one shot last year in the Alfred Dunhill Links, is already looking forward to defending his title when the 2019 event takes place from September 26-29. The Championship celebrates links golf at its finest and is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the Alfred Dunhill Links, which raises substantial funds for charity each year, incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and the Team Championship, in which the pro’s are paired with amateur players, creating a unique atmosphere and camaraderie.
Bjerregaard said: “I'm always looking forward to the Dunhill and as defending champion it will be a little different from the last few years, but I can't wait to go back and defend my title. It’s one of the best weeks we have all year. I love St Andrews.
“I won't do much different from last year. It will be nice to get back to a place with good memories. I’ll obviously try to relive some of those in my head and walking down some of the fairways it will be pretty special thinking back to what happened last year.”
Bjerregaard will be in a field which includes many of the world’s leading golfers partnering some of the biggest names from entertainment and sport.
This year’s tournament will mark 35 consecutive years of Alfred Dunhill golf events in St Andrews and is the 19th year of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is the only professional tournament played every year over the Old Course.
Among the golfers who have graced the fairways over the years have been four-time Major Championship winner Rory McIlroy, 2020 European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and a number of other Major Championship winners including Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen. Popular golfers like Tommy Fleetwood, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have also appeared regularly.
In recent years they have been joined by showbiz stars Jamie Dornan, Andy Garcia, Ronan Keating, Greg Kinnear, Brian McFadden and Huey Lewis, plus sporting greats like Sir Steve Redgrave, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Warne and Jamie Redknapp.
Admission is free for all spectators over the first three days with final day tickets on Sunday, September 29 available to purchase at the entrance gates for £20 (Concessions £15), or in advance here.