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Eclectic mix at Alfred Dunhill Links

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be played for the 13th consecutive year this week when the pro-am formatted event is held over three of the outstanding courses of British and Scottish golf, St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

First played in 2001 as a replacement for the Alfred Dunhill Cup teams event, the championship got off to a shaky start when bad weather took a lot of fun out of a tournament that was built on the idea of its participants enjoying themselves.

But the concept, based on that of the AT&T National Pro Am at Pebble Beach, soon cast off that indifferent start and has become a must play for many of the European Tour's leading players and celebrities.

It has also become a must play players who might normally get access to a US$5 million event. The tournament invites several players from the money lists of regional tours such as Asia and Australasia. and so the opportunity to play such Open Championship layouts as St Andrews and Carnoustie is irresistible for some who might even struggle to get any further than the third and cut off round.

The leading ranked player in the field is South African Charl Schwartzel whose form has been mixed of late. He finished 29th of 30 at last week's Tour Championship but he did make it into the elite field which was an achievement in itself. He played the three earlier FedEx Cup playoffs well enough although a lack of any real success at this event is a concern.

Ernie Els is a player who has played this event on a regular basis although in recent times he has not done so well. There has not been a top ten in his last five events in this championship.

Martin Kaymer has been solid if unspectacular of late, hardly missing a cut in the last few months but not exactly setting the world on fire either. He is a former winner and runner-up of this event so that in itself speaks for his chances.

Several of the South African members of the International Presidents Cup side are in the field including Richard Sterne and Branden Grace. Sterne has played well enough in European Tour events of late although does not possess a great record in the Championship.

Grace on the other hand comes of a win here last year but has struggled since a runner-up finish at the Scottish Open. At his best he is a class player and having won the event last year he should perhaps be considered.

Simon Dyson, Joost Luiten and Ross Fisher are others whose form of late has been good enough for them to be a factor this week.

The Australasian contingent is numerically strong because of the presence of players who have qualified for the event through the Australasian and Asian Tours.

Marcus Fraser, Richard Green, Brett Rumford, Peter O'Malley, Andrew Dodt, Scott Hend, Daniel Popovic, Anthony Brown, Mark Brown, Jason Norris, Peter Wilson, Gareth Paddison, Steve Jones, Matthew Millar and New Zealander Michael Campbell will line up.

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