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European Tour preview: Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Preview – European Tour – Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Old Course – Scotland –

Fresh off the Ryder Cup victory, several European Tour stars return to action this week at the European Tours Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

Led by World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, they are certain to be cheered throughout the week for their efforts. The Players and U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer is also in the field along with Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher.

The stacked field also features Hall of Famer Ernie Els, American Ryan Palmer (who contended throughout the FedEx Cup Playoffs), and major champions Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

South Africans are well rested and represented here this week. There are also recent European Tour event champions including Joost Luiten (Wales Open), Paul Casey (KLM Open) and Marc Warren (Made in Denmark).

The event features a three-course rotation including Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and The Old Course.

The season-long Race To Dubai moves into golf’s forefront. McIlroy leads the standings ahead of Sergio Garcia, Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson. The top players in the standings are  gunning to advance to the DP World Tour Championship in late November in Dubai.

2013 Results:

  • David Howell (23-under) won the title in a playoff against American Peter Uihlein. Shane Lowry and Oosthuizen were T-3, while Tommy Fleetwood rounded out the Top 5.

FANTASY: Expect a little Ryder Cup hangover for some of the headliners, but expect a few to at least contend before falling back perhaps on Sunday. Dubuisson, who was 2-0-1 as a Ryder Cup Rookie, might see a bump in confidence this week. Take Tommy Fleetwood this week. He was T-2 two weeks ago at the Wales Open – finishing a shot behind Luiten. Fleetwood closed with a back-nine 30 and he was 5th here in 2013. Nicolas Colsaerts seems to be trending in the right direction.

BETTORS: McIlroy, at 4 1/2-to-1 odds, is the bookmakers overall favorite at skybet.com. He leads the Race To Dubai Standings during the stretch run, but this could be let-down week following the Ryder Cup victory. Shane Lowry (20-1) is among the favorites this week. He has been in the mix lately on the European Tour including a T-2 in Wales. And, he logged a T-3 here last year. Take Casey, who won the KLM Open in September, at 33-1.

Golf Channel has television coverage all week.

Other Golf News:

  • The LPGA Tour’s Race to CME Globe ramps up this week at the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in Beijing, China. Several Rolex Ranking Top 10 players are scheduled to compete including Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen and China’s Shanshan Feng.
  • The Big Break Invitational — Reynolds Plantation takes place Tuesday and Wednesday featuring headliners from past Big Break reality golf competitions on Golf Channel. There is a separate women’s and men’s competition. Forty players in all. Some of the featured players include Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, James Nitties and NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
  • The PGA Tour’s 2014-2015 wrap-around season begins Oct. 6 with the Frys.com Open at Napa, California. Silverado Resort and Spa (North Course) hosts the first FedEx Cup event of the season.
  • Cleveland/Srixon signed Keegan Bradley to a multiyear extension. Keegan, a PGA Championship winner and Ryder Cup member for Team USA, is expected to play the Srixon golf ball and woods alongside Cleveland irons and wedges. The deal also includes head wear, glove and bag agreements.