VIJAY Singh’s eventful year, which included him suing the PGA Tour over a much-publicised investigation into his use of deer-antler spray, continues this week in an event he once played on a regular basis.
The Fijian, who claimed the US circuit had exposed him to “public humiliation and ridicule” before dropping its case against him, is amongst 14 major champions taking part in the Dunhill Links Championship.
It is the recently-turned-50-year-old’s first appearance on the European Tour for more than three years, having been persuaded to turn the clock back to play in the pro-am event at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews by American businessman John Fry.
“Last year John mentioned that it’d be fun if we both came over to play and I agreed at the time but then forgot about it until a few weeks ago, when he asked me if I was ready to go. ‘Go where?’ I asked him. ‘To the Dunhill,’ he said. So here I am,” said Singh.
“It’s been a while since I last played here [his last appearance was in 2006, when he tied for 22nd behind Padraig Harrington], but I always remember it was a lot of fun, especially for the amateurs.
“It probably means more to them than it does to us pros – making the cut for the final day is a really big deal for them so, hopefully, I can do my best to help out.
“I’ve played St Andrews many times, and I always love coming back here – although I’d enjoy it even more if it warmed up a bit. Everything always depends on the weather here – if the wind blows, you have to try to adapt your game to the conditions and play a few punch shots or bump and runs. But, if the weather’s good, there are definitely some birdies to be made out there.”
As has become one of the event’s traditions, young Scottish amateurs are being given the chance to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top players this week, the two lucky recipients of spots in the team segment on this occasion being Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson and Claire Robertson from Carnoustie.
Ferguson, 17, has earned his spot on the back of winning the British Boys’ Championship and topping the Scottish Boys’ Order of Merit within the last month, while 15-year-old Robertson was the overall winner at this year’s Alfred Dunhill Schools Golf Challenge.