Rory McIlroy is hoping to put the icing on the cake of a perfect 60 th birthday present for his father by claiming a maiden Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title, with the Northern Irishman playing alongside his dad Gerry in an event which has provided him many special memories but not yet an elusive victory.
“I guess the history that I’ve had at this tournament from getting my Tour card back in 2007 to having a few chances to win, and not quite getting the job done – it obviously would be really nice to win at St. Andrews at some point.
“I think, at this point in my career, I’m still trying to play well individually. But you know, I’m taking the team part of it almost just as serious as the individual part.”
The famous pro-am event features a star-studded line-up this week, with many of the world’s best golfers playing alongside celebrities, business people and family members, over three stunning venues – St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns Golf Links and Carnoustie Golf Links.
McIlroy is playing alongside his father for the third time in the pro-am event and, having finished runner-up on three occasions in the individual event and also having claimed his European Tour card for the first time at the age of 18 thanks to a third-place finish in 2007, he is hoping to capitalise on his superb 2019 form by triumphing for the first time in his career at St Andrews.
“It’s my dad’s 60th birthday next week, and I said to him, what do you want for your birthday, and he said, I’d love to play the Dunhill one more time. This is his birthday present. His last hoorah, I think. Hopefully we have a good week and make it to Sunday.”
World Number Five Jon Rahm will also make his debut in this tournament alongside his father, while World Number Four Justin Rose will take to the tee alongside pop superstar Justin Timberlake. Danny Willett, meanwhile, returns to action just days after his remarkable BMW PGA Championship victory at Wentworth Club last week.
“I have just good memories of being here, really,” said Rose. “I can’t believe it’s been 11 years. It’s amazing how time flies but I’m excited. The little shift in the schedule and obviously with Wentworth being a little later in the year, FedEx Cup and all that stuff, it feels like it’s a really nice time of year to play here again. I’m excited to be back.
“It’s cool to be playing with Justin Timberlake. Obviously I’m quite happy to be another Justin on the golf course – that’s probably always the case, anyway, with Justin Thomas and the young kids around. I’m kind of used to it these days. It’s fun to be playing with him.”