Sporting knights gather at the ‘Home of Golf’

9/23/2013 12:00:00 AM
Sir Ian Botham in action watched by Shane Warne at St Andrews  (Getty Images)
Sir Ian Botham in action watched by Shane Warne at St Andrews (Getty Images)
A trio of Britain’s greatest sporting knights, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Steve Redgrave, will lead a locker room packed with sports legends at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Cricket is the leading sport on the fairways this year, with an impressive batch of former players swapping their bats for their golf clubs to compete over three of the finest links courses in the world: the Old Course St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Between them, Botham, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Allan Lamb, Mark Nicholas, Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan and Shane Warne played in more than 800 Tests.

Other notable names from the world of sport include former footballers Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, rugby stars Sean Fitzpatrick and Rob Louw, and former British tennis No. 1 Tim Henman.

Henman said: “This is unquestionably the best golfing week of my year. The three courses – Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St Andrews – are just amazing. The opportunity to play with the pros, when they are competing in one of the biggest tournaments on The European Tour, is just such a privilege.

“I missed it last year, when I had to go to China for some Wimbledon meetings with the players. It was a huge disappointment to miss out, so I can’t wait to be there this year. It’s definitely a goal of mine to make the cut in the team event – I’ve never made it to the last day before.”

The sportsmen, along with Hollywood actors Andy Garcia and Hugh Grant and an A-list group of showbiz stars which includes Don Felder from The Eagles, Riverdance idol Michael Flatley, rock star Huey Lewis, Kyle MacLachlan of Desperate Housewives fame and actors James Nesbitt and Luke Wilson, will be joining a world-class field of professionals.

This year, no fewer than 14 Major Champions – including Jose Maria Olazabal, David Duval, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh – will be taking part. Defending champion Branden Grace will also be returning to the ‘Home of Golf’, hoping to become the first player to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links titles.