Kevin Pietersen made his debut in this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and likened his Old Course experience to that of a Test match at Lord’s.
“I can’t describe how amazing it is,” said the South African-born cricketer who went on to have a stellar career with England. “The comparison you draw is with Lord’s. We are very lucky to get to play with these professionals. It’s like somebody coming out to bat in a Test match with me.”
Shane Warne, meanwhile, had to shell out £500 to stave off the cold at Carnoustie. “Me and my pro partner, Wade Ormsby, were off early in the second round and it was like we passed a few Eskimos and polar bears in the first six holes. I spent 500 quid in the pro shop because I under-clubbed with my clothing but overall we were lucky with the weather this year.”
From the football world, former Chelsea and AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko showed himself to be a pretty good golfer in his Links debut. The Ukranian, who scored 127 goals in 208 games and won both the Champions League and Ballon d’Or in seven glorious seasons in Milan, plays off scratch.
And despite being right-footed, the 39-year-old plays golf left-handed, a consequence of his days playing ice hockey as a youngster in Kiev.
Another soccer legend, Michael Ballack, admits he was taken aback to win the pro-am section of the tournament alongside German professional Florian Fritsch.
“Playing with Florian and having such an incredible result makes it special. Footballers are used to playing in front of 50-60,000 people, but this is different. My hands have been shaky, but the confidence slowly started to come.”
Rock legend Huey Lewis, who teamed with Branden Grace in the pro-am, made the news after a birdie three and a nett eagle two at the iconic Road Hole.
He said: “The funny thing was, there was no applause at my approach – it was only when I got to the green that someone said the previous group were teeing off at the 18th. That’s the knowledgeable Scottish crowds for you. In America they would have gone crazy even with some guy at the top of his backswing!”
Meanwhile film star Hugh Grant owes his big brother Jamie money after losing a bet on who would finish highest on the Team Championship leaderboard.
“He owes me some money!” laughed Jamie. “It’s very good that we weren’t playing together as we would have a fight very quickly. I like to talk a lot during golf and Hugh’s thing is to be completely silent.”
Hugh claimed: “I didn’t know we had a bet on, he may have just invented that.”
Former English tennis star Tim Henman is also a hot golfer and he too, like Shevchenko, is off scratch, while American Kelly Slater, the world’s greatest surfer, is a two-handicap.