Three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington returns to St Andrews this week with the goal of becoming the first golfer to win three Alfred Dunhill Links Championship titles.
The Dubliner was a winner in 2002 and 2006, when he also won the Team Championship with Irish horse racing enthusiast and businessman J.P McManus, and is looking to add another accolade to his already impressive resume when the European Tour returns to the Home of Golf from Thursday.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win twice. It’s definitely the favourite tournament of the year for me and many players,” said Harrington.
“The three courses suit me down to the ground and I will be ready to give myself the best possible chance of winning. When it comes to a links golf course, I have a distinct advantage.”
The 2020 European Ryder Cup Captain also noted he won’t be spending the week sizing up potential players in his team. “It’s a bit early for ‘Captain’s Picks’, but I’m trying to get to know the younger guys and I’m pairing up with those guys, even at this stage, just to get to know potential players; more on a personal level than judging their games at this stage.”
It’s a tactic that Harrington used to get a glimpse of potential Ryder Cup bolter, Viktor Hovland when he paired up with the flying Norwegian for the first two rounds of last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Hovland impressed, finishing in a share of 11th while for Harrington’s own playing ambitions, he returned to parity for the week with a four-under par Sunday 68 that saw him collect a nice cheque worth €31,066 for a top-50 placing.
“I think this week is more for me to enjoy. I don’t see it as a working week. I’ll be very much focused on enjoying it – and the links golf. As a two-time winner and as a constant feature at the Alfred Dunhill Links and as an Open Champion, I’ve always had a great welcome. There’s an affinity between the Irish and the Scots.”
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.
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 pros are paired with amateur players, creating a unique atmosphere and camaraderie.
The tournament 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.
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.