Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps was overwhelmed by his first experience of playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland – even though he and professional partner Paul Casey could only post a level par team score at Carnoustie, which leaves them in the lower half of the field.
“With all the history that is around you here, on these great courses, it is just an honour for me to play in this tournament,” said Phelps, the holder of a record 18 Olympic gold medals. “I was a bit nervous on the first tee, but it wasn’t too bad. To be honest, it was more nerve-wracking watching the Ryder Cup last week!
“My partner Paul Casey was awesome to play with, and there were some good comments going back and forth between us during the round. He gave me some great tips and, by the end, was just telling me to hit it hard!
“Carnoustie is a very challenging course, and I did find myself in a bit of rough at times and on a couple of occasions I had to pick up. But that is OK, and overall it was just a lot of fun. There is also a couple of great golf courses to look forward to playing over the next two days – Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St Andrews – so it doesn’t get much better!”
A birdie on Carnoustie’s second hole was the highlight of what ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius called “an unbelievable experience”, meanwhile, in his debut appearance at the Dunhill Links.
The South African Paralympic and Olympic star said the birdie at the 463-yard par four settled him into his round after a nervous start, and he and professional partner Paul McGinley ended up posting a team score of two over par.
“It was very stressful for me this morning,” said Pistorius. “It was a nervous time on that first tee, and I was just glad to get the ball past the ladies’ tee! But then I got that net birdie and overall the day was an unbelievable experience for me.
“To play with Paul and to be in a four-ball with Colin Montgomerie and Sir Steve Redgrave was brilliant, especially as Steve and I have known each other a long time and we are good friends. But we didn’t have a bet – we kept it clean! There was a bit of a competitive spirit between us, so perhaps we’ll have a little match later in the tournament.
“I’m out of my comfort zone on the golf course, and especially in an event like this and playing in front of a lot of people. But I did find my rhythm a bit more on the back nine and Paul was very relaxed and full of good advice. I’m looking forward to playing at both Kingsbarns and St Andrews now over the next two days.”