Ireland’s Paul Dunne, England’s Jimmy Mullen and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg share the lead in the 15th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after first round 64s.
They were all outstanding performances, particularly by Dunne and Mullen, playing in their first European Tour event as professionals.
But the cheers on a brilliantly sunny day at St Andrews also rang out for film star Jamie Dornan who dramatically eagled the 18th on the Old Course, one of the most historic holes in golf.
Dornan, playing with American professional Peter Uihlein in the Team Championship, rolled in a 30-foot putt for the eagle two, and said: “That’s up there as one of the most amazing feelings of my life. Whatever your standard, you have your moments in golf when you play a great shot, but it’s usually on some dirt track of a course. To do that here at St Andrews, on the 18th, well, that’s the closest I am going to get to winning the Open!”
Dornan, from Holywood, the same town in Northern Ireland as Rory McIlroy, said: “It’s a shame Rory wasn’t here to see that, but I’ll be texting him to let him know.”
Dornan and Uihlein are eight-under in the Team Championship, five shots behnd the leaders. He said: “I’ve got tickets to watch Ireland play Italy in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, but I’d swap those to get to play here again on the final day, especially if I could eagle the 18th again to win the team tournament. It was fantastic out there today.”
Mullen, whose 64 at Kingsbarns included an eagle at the 5th, won all four of his matches during Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup victory over the United States. He said: “I didn’t expect to shoot eight-under first time out. But Pablo Larrazabal helped me along, such a nice guy. I’ve got a lot of learning to do and just looking forward to tomorrow.
“I’ve only played Kingsbarns once before, but I’ve played St. Andrews lots of times and played Carnoustie five times in a year in the British Amateur, so I know those well. I’m looking forward to playing both those courses. To start off my career at St. Andrews is a dream, really, but it’s a long way away from winning the tournament. I’ve only played one round. But hopefully I’ll be there at the end of the week.”
The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, 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.
Dunne’s round included a hole-in-one at the 205-yard, 15th hole – his sixth after starting at the 10th. He used a 5-iron and said: “I needed it. I got off to a ropey start. I tried to start it at the left edge of green and let the wind drift it in. I thought I’d hit it close and when I saw it drop, it was great. I played some good golf from then on.”
The Irishman added: “I’ve been looking forward to getting started as a pro for a while. No better place to do it than on a links-style course like this. All three courses are in fantastic condition. They are all very different but all of them put up different types of tests.
“It’s a long week with other golf courses to be played, but for now I’m just going to be pleased with my round and look forward to the rest of the week.”
Broberg, 29, became the fastest player to earn promotion from the Challenge Tour to the full European Tour in 2012 after winning three tournaments. He shot up from 1,109 in the world rankings to 79th at the end of that year, after finishing runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
He came close to his first European Tour victory in 2014 when he tied for third in the Irish Open and finished runner-up at the Scottish Open.
There were three players a further shot behind – England’s Richard Bland and Anthony Wall and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
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.
Leaders in the Team Championship were Moritz Lampert & Christer Lihammar on 13-under, one shot ahead of Jared Harvey & Michael Zamkow and Dunne and talented young 16-year-old Scottish golfer Keith Bowman. A further shot back was Marcus Fraser and another brilliant young local golfer, Sandy Scott, 17, who was only invited to play in the Championship 48 hours earlier.
Among the celebrity amateurs playing are film stars Andy Garcia and Hugh Grant, rock legends Don Felder, Ronan Keating and Huey Lewis and many great sporting idols including Sir Ian Botham and Sir Steve Redgrave, who have both played in all 15 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships, cricketers Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne, Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll, record-breaking jump jockey A.P.McCoy, star international footballers Michael Ballack, Johan Cruyff, Alessandro del Piero, Ruud Gullit and Andriy Shevchenko, and popular Wimbledon hero Tim Henman.
To access the live scoring for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, please direct your
web browser to: http://www.alfreddunhilllinks.com and click on LIVE SCORING