Dunhill Links: Ryder Cup heroes left trailing in Branden Grace’s wake
UNLESS there are some fireworks on the course before the traditional pyrotechnic show lights up the sky above St Andrews tonight, the £3.5 million Dunhill Links Championship is going to be missing some of its leading lights in the final round.
The Ryder Cup contingent, both players and vice-captains, are struggling to be among the 60 and ties to qualify for that circuit on the Old Course and so, too, are a posse of major winners, including Open champion Ernie Els. As another South African, 24-year-old Branden Grace, opened up a five-shot lead at the halfway stage, Els found himself sitting in a tie for 89th. He was even lower than that until he came home in three-under at Kingsbarns for a 70 and a one-under aggregate – 16 shots behind Grace after he followed his opening 60 with a 67 at St Andrews.
Martin Kaymer, Europe’s Ryder Cup hero last weekend, is the only one among the Medinah contingent playing in the event currently sitting inside the cut mark. The German carded a 71 at Kingsbarns and is tied for 56th on three-under.
Swede Peter Hanson is 73rd while Paul Lawrie is 124th and needs a low one at St Andrews today. As do the four vice-captains in Chicago. Thomas Bjorn is 89th, Paul McGinley 110th, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke both 129th. Dustin Johnson, on the losing team last Sunday, is also toiling, as are former winners Padraig Harrington and Simon Dyson, 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, last year’s Masters winner.
A number of them are at St Andrews for their round and will be looking to go low there, but Grace, who is chasing the biggest win of his career, admitted it was a bonus for him that the leaderboard was lacking some weight. “I think there would be more pressure on me if the likes of Louis, Charl or someone else like that was close behind me,” he said.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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