Johnson to play Alfred Dunhill Links

Top American golfer Dustin Johnson is to make his first appearance in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Johnson, 27, showed how much he enjoys playing links courses earlier this year when he finished runner-up in the Open Championship to Darren Clarke at Royal St.George’s.

One of the longest drivers on the US PGA Tour, regularly knocking his tee shots 350 yards, Johnson is currently No 6 in the world rankings and is fresh from victory last month in the Barclay Championship in New Jersey, his fifth Tour victory.

Johnson has had an excellent year in the major championships. As well as finishing second in The Open, he was eighth in the US Open and fifth in the US PGA.

Also in the field are three of this year’s major champions – Darren Clarke, who won an emotional Open Championship at the age of 42 at Royal St George’s in July, his fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, runaway winner of the US Open at Congressional a month earlier, and US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, the latest in a long line of South African major winners to take part in the event.

In one of the strongest line-ups in the history of the Championship, also playing will be current world No 1 and No 2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, and major championship winners Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Todd Hamilton, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer, who last year also won the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and headed the European Tour money list, will be bidding to become the first golfer to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links titles.

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. The Championship this year takes place from September 29 to October 2.

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 which creates a unique atmosphere.

Celebrities from the world of entertainment include film and TV stars Hugh Grant and John O’Hurley. Also taking part are rock music legends Don Felder of the Eagles, Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, plus popular radio presenter Chris Evans.

A quartet of Britain’s sporting knights – Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave – lead a locker room full of sporting heroes, including Dutch football legends Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gul lit, former England player Jamie Redknapp and Scottish defender Alan Hansen.

A strong team of cricketers will be teeing up next week. In addition to Sir Ian Botham, there will be current England captain Andrew Strauss and former captain Michael Vaughan, England Test players Allan Lamb and Mark Nicholas, plus Steve Waugh and Shane Warne of Australia. The immensely popular former British tennis No 1 Tim Henman will be back, along with rugby giants Morné du Plessis and Hugo Porta, Austrian downhill ski legend Franz Klammer and ten-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater.

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