NI golfers in Dunhill Links action

Published Thursday, 04 October 2012
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Northern Ireland's golfers didn't enjoy a great day at the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland on Thursday, where Ryder Cup talk was still dominating.

NI golfers in Dunhill Links action
Darren Clarke in action at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. (© Getty)

One of José María Olazábal's vice-captains, Darren Clarke, finished his round on three over - two shots behind compatriot Gareth Maybin.

Of the locals, it was defending Dunhill champ Michael Hoey who faired best, finishing on one under after a round that included three birdies and two bogeys.

But that still leaves him 11 shots behind leader Branden Grace of South Africa, who equalled the European Tour record with his round of 60 - something Clarke has done twice previously.

Grace, aged 24, also knocked two strokes off Lee Westwood's course record with his round at Kingsbarns (one of three courses, along with St Andrews and Carnoustie, hosting the tournament), which included an eagle and no less than ten birdies.

Ryder Cup heroes Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson were back in action, but with rounds of 75, 70 and 72 respectively.

"I was a little bit tired obviously, but the first 12 holes were my worst ball-striking of the year," Lawrie declared.

Irishman Paul McGinley, another Ryder Cup vice-captain and favourite to take the captaincy in 2014, was also playing in the tournament - but struggled to a 76.

I definitely see Paul (for 2014). I think he will make a great captain.

Peter Hanson

He still enjoyed a real highlight of the day though, in partnering Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pretorius in the celebrity pro-am.

"It was a real honour to be in his company," McGinley said.

He was also staying coy about his prospects of captaining Team Europe when they go out to defend the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland in two years' time.

While Clarke is also a contender to take the reins, current world number one Rory McIlroy has already said he thinks the Dungannon man's popularity in the US would make him perfect for 2016.

"As my caddie Jimmy says: 'What's meant for you won't pass you by'," McGinley said.

"I'll just have to wait and see."

© UTV News
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