Padraig Harrington and JP McManus boast the most successful partnership in the history of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, having won two individual and two team championships between them.
However on this occasion, Ireland’s three-time Major Championship winner Harrington has not been paired with JP, with whom he won in 2002 and 2006, but with his son Kieran McManus.
Harrington said: “I have had a great amateur partner in previous years, but J.P. is not fit this year.”
But Harrington should have no complaints about playing with Kieran, who himself has won two team championships in 2009 and 2014.
The draw for the Championship, which begins on Thursday, has thrown up some fascinating pairings.
Last year’s team championship winner, former German footballer Michael Ballack, partners Swedish pro Niclas Fasth, while young Ryder Cup star Matthew Fitzpatrick teams up with Barcelona and Real Madrid legend Luis Figo.
There are some intriguing Hollywood pairings: Jamie Dornan & Tyrrell Hatton; Andy Garcia & Gregory Bourdy; Matthew Goode & Edoardo Molinari; Hugh Grant & David Howell; Greg Kinnear & Trevor Immelman; and Kyle MacLachlan & Paul McGinley.
Music legend Ronan Keating partners Peter Hanson, Linkin Park’s David Farrell is paired with Eddie Pepperell, while Huey Lewis at last gets the chance to play with young American Peter Uihlein, after he had to drop out at the last minute in 2013 with a shoulder injury.
World no 14 Branden Grace plays with father Peter and Ryder Cup player Martin Kaymer with his father Horst.
For the full draw, please visit: http://alfreddunhilllinks.com/draw/
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the Alfred Dunhill Links incorporates an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and a team championship in which the professionals are paired with the amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.
This year the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship includes a blue chip professional line-up of Major Championship winners, including current Masters champion Danny Willett, and members of the European Ryder Cup team.
Willett will be flying straight from the Ryder Cup in Hazeltine with Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood.
Other Major champions in the field include Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Trevor Immelman and YE Yang
Former winner and world No 14 Branden Grace, Shane Lowry, Andrew Johnston, now universally known as ‘Beef’, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley are also in action.
Pieters admits it is a “weird feeling” to return to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as a Ryder Cup star just two years after a strong finish at this event helped him solidify his European Tour card.
The big-hitting Belgian was the leading scorer on either side at Hazeltine National last week, winning four points from five matches in his first Ryder Cup.
Pieters is one of six members of Darren Clarke’s team in Scotland for this week’s tournament, with Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick and Rafael Cabrera Bello also teeing it up.
Two years ago, Pieters finished in a share of 18th place when he made his debut at the US$5 million event, which is played as a Pro-Am on three of the world’s finest links courses in St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
The 24 year old has been paired with Johann Rupert, Chairman of the Organising Committee, whilst keen Sheffield United fan Fitzpatrick has former Portugal and Real Madrid footballer Luis Figo as his playing partner, and Cabrera Bello will team up with Dermot Desmond, the Irish businessman who part owns Celtic FC.
“I’ve played here two times before, last year I missed the cut but the year before I had a decent finish.
“Especially compared to last week, it’s a nice relaxed tournament – at least for the first three days anyway. It’s a weird feeling, it’s only been two years since I was struggling to keep my card, and now I’m here having just played The Ryder Cup, so it went a bit fast.
“It’s quite tough to sit here and talk about my individual performance when we lost as a team. You go there as a team, so you win or you lose as a team. Obviously there’s talk about me being a rookie and having four points, and I played great so I’m really happy. But three of those points were with Rory (McIllroy), so I don’t really see it as my four points.”
Rafa Cabrera Bello
“I am feeling fine today, but yesterday I did feel pretty tired so I needed to catch up on some sleep. Mentally, I feel very happy and I’m confident with my game at the moment.
“I’m still thinking about last week and am not so much focused on this week, which is not ideal, but I think in a way that’s inevitable. Come tomorrow, I’m sure that having had another good night’s sleep and a bit more rest, I’ll be ready to go. To be back competing on three great courses and playing links golf, which I love, it’s going to get the juices going again.”
Selected tee times
Game - Pro and Amateur- Tee-time - Tee
1 Peter Hanson and Ronan Keating 09:00 1
1 Robert Rock and Brian McFadden 09:00 1
8 Paul Dunne and Jeff Kelter 10:17 1
8 Paul McGinley and Kyle MacLachlan 10:17 1
15 Marcel Siem and Ross Desmond 09:00 10
21 Cormac Sharvin and Ian Todd 10:06 10
41 Grant Forrest and Brett Desmond 11:12 1
45 Graeme McDowell and Sir Anthony McCoy 09:22 10
45 Alvaro Quiros and Brian O'Driscoll 09:22 10
46 Shane Lowry and Gerry McManus 09:33 10
46 Tyrrell Hatton and Jamie Dornan 09:33 10
47 Padraig Harrington and Kieran McManus 09:44 10
47 Thorbjørn Olesen and David Dorman 09:44 10
48 Rafa Cabrera Bello and Dermot Desmond 09:55 10
68 Jack Hume and Holger Peens 11:01 1
81 Michael Hoey and Billy Dewsall 10:50 10