The Alfred Dunhill Links Challenge tees off today and is one of the European Tour’s more unusual events. It is the only pro-am event on the circuit which many look forward to with great anticipation every year. The Alfred Dunhill Links Challenge has only been in existence since 2001 but is an established part of the European Tour. The 4 day event is played across three courses. Each player completes 18 holes at Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St.Andrews. The cut is made after three rounds and the top 60 individuals and top 20 teams make it through to Sunday for another circuit of the Old Course. A stellar line-up of pros and celebs do battle over the four days across the three iconic links courses. Each pro is partnered by one amateur and the teams of two each play the three courses in rotation over the first 3 days.

Celebrities taking part often include Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray,Hugh Grant. Some professionals choose to invite close friends and family to play alongside them. One example would be Rory McIlroy choosing to play with his father for the weekend.

End the season on high?

For Rory McIlroy, this weekend at the Dunhill Links Challenge will signal the end of his season. McIlroy has not enjoyed a successful year by any means, having failed to win a single tournament. McIlroy has been battling a rib injury throughout the year which has left is play largely inconsistent. The 28 year old has claimed “It’s not a factor when I’m out on the course, but it’s a factor off the course in terms of how much time I can practice,”. It has been a year of many changes with new clubs,ball and most recently departing from his long term caddy.

Rory has never won this tournament despite finishing runner-up on three occasions. Even more surprisingly, McIlroy will be aiming for his first ever win in Scotland in his professional career. He will be hoping to rectify that this weekend with his dad by his side and end the season on a high.

Irish Contingent

Last weeks British Masters seen a surge in the Irish performance that we haven’t seen all year. Paul Dunne finally crossing over the threshold with his first victory on the European Tour. A stunning performance saw him storm into the lead on the final day. Even with McIlroys best efforts, Dunne was not to be stopped and he chipped in for victory on the 18th. Shane Lowry started to show some form that he was missing all year long as well as Graeme McDowell. All four Irish players will be hoping to replicate some of last weeks performance as they tee off today for the Dunhill Links Challenge.

Dunhill Favorites

The warm favorites for the weekend are the Irish trio of Lowry, Dunne and McIlroy, but there is a long list of potential victors. If past winners are anything to go on, this event usually produces a winner that you would not expect. Last years winner, Tyrell Hatton, is coming off some brilliant golf played last week at he British Masters. As well as equaling the St Andrews course record during his third round last year, he will be feeling confident he can retain his title.

Granted, it’s also a fair while since Martin Kaymer took a title of any description but this two-time major winner might just return to the winners’ enclosure in an event he dearly loves. The affable German was runner-up here in 2008 and won it on his next visit in 2010. Like Kaymer, Thorbjorn Olesen is searching for a second Dunhill Links title. He arrives in the sort of form which could see him repeat his 2015 success. Although winless in 2017, for my money this has been the most solid season of Olesen’s career.