Defending champion Danny Willett (35/1 Outright) says the quality of the field and the extra prizes on offer mean it will be another “great week” at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Dunhill Links is one of the DP World Tour’s most iconic events, as the top players mix it with celebrities and sports people alike, playing a round apiece over three days at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews.
The top 60 professionals and the leading 20 pro-am teams then make the cut before battling it out on the Old Course on Sunday.
Ronan Keating, Huey Lewis, Michael Vaughan and Sir Steve Redgrave are among the celebrities and former sportspeople who are set to tee it up, while the list of professionals heading to Scotland’s North Sea coast is not lacking either.
As ever, the Dunhill Links has attracted a stellar field, with DP World Tour Rankings leader Rory McIlroy (9/2 Outright), US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick (10/1) and recent Wentworth winner Shane Lowry (10/1) among the field.
However, it is Willett who is the defending champion after his closing 68 a year ago gave him a two-shot victory over two-time winner Tyrell Hatton (14/1) and Joakim Lagergren.
That win came on his 34th birthday and a repeat success will be an early gift with him set to celebrate turning another year on Monday.
However, he has a point to prove after three-putting the final green at the recent Fortinet Championship to hand the title to Max Homa.
With qualifying for next year’s Ryder Cup in Italy having commenced, there is an extra incentive for all the players as they look to shape their schedules around the possibility of representing Europe at Marco Simone GC next September.
Willett, a veteran of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, admits the points up for grabs only add to the excitement of what he describes as a “great week”.
“It’s great to have guys who are vying for Ryder Cup points, World Ranking points,” Willett said.
“You know, when them guys pitch up, it adds to an event and it’s just nice that, you know, within that, they then bring, obviously Rory is playing with his dad, Matt is playing with his mum.
“It just shows how special this week is and what it does for golf as a whole and kind of how much fun this week can be for the guys that are here. It’s just a great week.”
Over in America, most of the big names are having a week off after last week’s Presidents Cup, meaning the Sanderson Farms Championship gives some of the PGA Tour’s lesser lights a chance to shine.
The only one of the USA’s victorious team from last week in attendance at the Country Club of Jackson is Sam Burns, who leads the betting at 10/1.