ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Trunk slamming. Or boot slamming, to use the correct terminology in this part of the world, after a third-round 68 at Kingsbarns. Both Mikko Ilonen and I struggled on the front nine, but five birdies in our last six holes put smiles back on our faces and lofted the Fin into a perfect position to attack on Monday and win his third European Tour title.
I went out on a high hitting the par-5 ninth, our closing hole, in two and skirting the edge for eagle. I made the return for a closing birdie and team total of 19 under. Sadly, the cut for the top 20 amateur teams fell at 21 under. But it goes to show two things: firstly, there must be a few dodgy handicaps out there and secondly, on the flipside of that, how high the standard of golf is from the amateurs. There are quite a few low single-digit players in this event and a handful of them would have gone around under 70 if they’d putted out. Some probably beat their pros gross score.
Our partners for the week, Sam Hutsby and Weston Quasha, also failed to qualify for the final day, but no doubt they’ll both be back next year. Hutsby is a rookie pro, having joined the paid ranks following the Walker Cup. He is a very level-headed young man, a pleasure to play with and someone to keep an eye on over the next few years. If he can win a European Tour card from the few invites he has this season or by grinding it through the Q-School he has the potential to become a star very quickly. Weston Quasha will return to the world of commerce but may have to endure a year’s worth of ribbing from his father, Alan, who made the cut and will play on Monday.
At the beginning of the week, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship from the outside but had no idea what it looked and felt like from the inside. It’s the best week in golf I’ve ever experienced. Granted, the weather was kind for all four days, practice and tournament, but the hospitality, the people and the competition were first class. I feel privileged to have been part of this unique tournament.
I must say a few thanks. Firstly, to Johann Rupert and his team for the organization and the love of the game, Gaye Wolfson and her folks at Richemont for the coordination with Golf Channel, and Peter German and the IMG staff for rolling with the punches and running such a smooth event.
I’m off to Copenhagen later in the week to report for Live From on the Olympic announcement. Enjoy the final round from St. Andrews on Golf Channel and I’ll see you from Denmark .
Watch final-round coverage of the Alfred Dunhill Links on Golf Channel Monday at 7 a.m. - noon.
Dunhill Diary, Part 5: Second round at the Old Course
Dunhill Diary, Part 4: First round at Carnoustie
Dunhill Diary, Part 3: Practice at the Old Course
Dunhill Diary, Part 2: Dry clothes and Draw Party
Dunhill Diary, Part 1: Big Stars ... and Me