One of the most popular events on the European Tour sees 17 Australasians tee up as part of the larger than normal field for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this week.
Played under a pro-am format, the tournament always attracts a top field as players join with family, friends and celebrities to compete over the bucket list roster of layouts of the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
Of the 17 golfers from this part of the world, 10 take their place courtesy of their finish on the 2016 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, that opportunity giving several a chance to earn a European Tour card.
None of Ash Hall, Matthew Giles, Aron Price, Andrew Evans or Stephen Leaney has rights on any international Tour while Todd Sinnott and Rhein Gibson play elsewhere but are not members of the European Tour.
For all seven the chance to tee up this week represents a significant opportunity to further their careers and one that will be welcomed by all.
Andrew Dodt, Jason Scrivener and Ryan Fox also earned their places in the field via their good play in Australia last summer but all three are already members of the European Tour.
Rounding out the Australasian challenge are Scott Hend, Brett Rumford, Wade Ormsby and former PGA TOUR player Stuart Appleby who has been extended a sponsor’s invitation.
Appleby missed the cut at last week’s Web.com Tour Championship in the US and for the first time in more than two decades is without anything higher than former champion status on the PGA Tour.
With three courses demanding very different styles of play to be successful the tournament has historically proved a difficult one for Australasians with none among this year’s contingent boasting a particularly good record.
Over the first three days the entire field plays one round each at each of the courses with Sunday’s finale played at The Old Course.
While the home of golf is susceptible to low scoring by a field of this calibre the tournament is generally decided by the scoring at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, both more challenging tests.
Last year’s winner, Tyrrell Hatton, played the Old Course both Saturday and Sunday in 2016 for scores of 62-66 to go from two behind to a four shot victory.
Aggressive players like Scott Hend, Ryan Fox and Rhein Gibson are all capable of producing low numbers at St Andrews and if they can escape the other two courses unscathed will be a chance to contend.
Conversely, the more methodical golfers such as Wade Ormsby, Brett Rumford and Jason Scrivener will have the advantage at the more difficult layouts though have less firepower to go low at St Andrews.
That fact, combined with the added element of the team competition and the spectacular and revered courses it is played on, always makes this event compelling viewing
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