Four-time major championship winner Ernie Els leads 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 twice each, has confirmed he will be bidding for his first victory in the event, which takes place from September 26-29.
He leads a classic line-up of no fewer than 12 major championship winners: Rich Beem (US PGA 2002), Michael Campbell (US Open 2005), Darren Clarke (The Open 2011), Retief Goosen (US Open 2001 & 2004), Padraig Harrington (The Open 2007 & 2008, US PGA 2008), Martin Kaymer (US PGA 2010), Paul Lawrie (The Open 1999), Shaun Micheel (US PGA 2003), Louis Oosthuizen (The Open 2010), Charl Schwartzel (Masters 2011) and Vijay Singh (Masters 2000, US PGA 1998 & 2004).
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 titles.
South Africa’s Oosthuizen will be back next week at the scene of his greatest triumph. It was in 2010 that the South African produced one of golf’s great performances, storming to victory at the Open Championship at a wind-lashed St Andrews by a staggering seven strokes.
He says: “St Andrews was always a special place for me even before my win there, but after that it meant everything – so much history; so many wonderful memories and knowing I would be a part of it for ever. I like to have fun on the golf course and the format at the Dunhill certainly lends itself to that.”
Ireland’s Harrington will be going for a remarkable third Alfred Dunhill links Championship, after winning both the individual professional event and the Team Championship with Irish businessman and racehorse owner JP McManus in 2002 and 2006.
Harrington says: “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 $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 which creates a unique atmosphere.
Among the amateurs who have competed in the Championship in recent years are 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.