I’M delighted to be blogging for the Scotsman during this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
I didn’t grow up in a golfing family. We were much more into GAA (Gaelic Football) but after my brothers moved to America they took on jobs as caddies to earn some extra money while they were in college. They brought the game back for the US and introduced it to me. That’s 25 years ago and I’m not sure my game has got any better.
This is my fifth tournament and the first I’ve played after a five year break. I had been doing X Factor in Australia during this time of year which was very unfortunate for me as this is the one event that I am always sad to miss.
So it’s great to be back. The weather is fantastic and the atmosphere here is always so relaxed. I’m playing with Lee Westwood, a good friend of mine whom I initially met nearly 20 years ago at the Gary Player pro-am event at Arabella in South Africa.
I do love playing golf in Scotland, which really is the home of golf. I’m a member at Archerfield, a lovely course, and a huge fan of the way the game is played here. The love the attitude to golf in Scotland and the fact that, like myself, they take it very seriously here.
The Old Course here in St Andrews is, hands down, my favourite of the three we play in the tournament. I think Kingsbarns is spectacular for scenery but it can be so tough. Likewise Carnoustie can be hell when the weather is bad but in good conditions you can score very well there. We do have perfect weather forecast for the next few days so by the end of this week I may change my preferred course.
To date, the highlight in all the Alfred Dunhill events I’ve competed in was year three when my pro partner Graeme Storm and I were leading in the tournament after two days. Just to walk down the fairway and see your name, ‘Team Keating’ at the top of the leader board was unbelievable.
I just want to enjoy this week. The one thing is you can get frustrated if you play badly and that can ruin it for you. The one thing I’ve learned is to embrace it and take it all in. Getting the chance to play in a tournament like this and be treated like a pro is the real privilege and an opportunity that few get to experience.
That is why I love to come to this event. It’s the best of it’s kind in the world.
• Ronan tees off in Carnoustie at 10.28 today for his opening round in this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship