As the dust settles on Scotland’s hugely successful staging of the 2014 Ryder Cup, the ‘Home of Golf’ remains at the centre of the sporting spotlight this week with the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, live on Sky Sports.
Four of the victorious European Team, along with captain Paul McGinley, will make the short journey from Gleneagles to Scotland’s east coast, to join an all-star cast of celebrities in the special annual pro-am event held at three of the country’s finest links courses – Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St Andrews.
With last weekend’s Ryder Cup still fresh in the mind for players and fans, there will no doubt be a relaxed, high spirited and triumphant party atmosphere on the fairways and greens of these three iconic Scottish courses.
The European team chalked up yet another impressive Ryder Cup victory last weekend, beating the USA by 16½ points to 11½ at Gleneagles to win their eight match out of the last 10 against the Americans, and five of the winning team’s protagonists are all in action over the course of this unique four-day pro-am event.
Given the scale of the truly global spectacle and sporting theatre produced by the Ryder Cup last week, a regular European Tour event might have felt rather anti-climactic in following it, but such is the unique nature of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the event appears to be an excellent fit.
Held over three different links courses at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, the championship adopts a pro-am format with a host of big-name celebrities joining the professionals in a team competition.
Over the opening 54 holes, each professional and his amateur partner will play one round at each of the venues, and those who survive the cut will head back to the Old Course at St Andrews on Sunday to decide the destiny of the two titles – both the main tournament prize as well as the pro-am segment of the event.
World number one Rory McIlroy will be hoping to cap a stunning personal season that has yielded two Major championships with yet another victory, as he returns to the event for the first time since finishing runner up to fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey in 2011.
McIlroy has a strong record in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, having also finished runner up in 2009, while he also recorded top ten finishes in the two years prior to that.
His teammate Martin Kaymer won the title in 2010, fresh from being part of the winning European Team at the Celtic Manor Resort, and like McIlroy, the German will looking for more success in a season that has brought glory in the Major championships.
Stephen Gallacher is also a past champion, having won the tournament in 2004, while Victor Dubuisson, who finished fifth two years ago, will be keen to build on his impressive, undefeated debut in the Ryder Cup last week.
Defending champion is Englishman and Sky Sports golf pundit David Howell, the former Ryder Cup winner, who defeated American Peter Uihlein 12 months ago to claim his fifth European Tour title and first since 2006.
There is also a strong South African contingent in the field, including Major champions Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, along with Branden Grace, the 2012 champion.
Of the famous faces taking part, the star-studded field includes actors Hugh Grant and Bill Murray, footballers Sir Bobby Charlton, Luis Figo, Ruud Gullit, Alan Hansen and Jamie Redknapp, former England cricket captains Michael Vaughan and Sir Ian Botham, multiple Olympic gold medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave and Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill, plus many more.
Sky Sports will be screening all four days from the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships exclusively on Sky Sports 4, the broadcaster’s ‘home of golf’, with more than 15 hours of live coverage.
David Livingstone presents Sky Sports’ coverage from all three courses, with commentary and analysis throughout the tournament provided by Ewen Murray, Rob Lee, Richard Boxall, Andrew Coltart, Howard Clark and Wayne Riley.
Subscribers can watch the action live online via Sky Go, get live scores and additional information about the tournament via the Sky Sports golf website, or follow @SkySportsGolf on Twitter for all the latest news and updates from the course.
Visit alfreddunhilllinks.com for more information about the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
.Thursday 2nd October
Round 1 LIVE: 1.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 4 Friday 3rd October
Round 2 LIVE: 1.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 4 Saturday 4th October
Round 3 LIVE: 1.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 4 Sunday 5th October
Round 4 LIVE: 12.30pm-5.30pm Sky Sports 4