Dunhill Cup to change format

This week could see the last of the Dunhill Cup as we know it as plans are in negotiation for a sweeping change

Martin Park
Tue, 10 Oct 2000
Dunhill Cup to change format

Starting Thursday this week is the Alfred Dunhill Cup at the home of Golf, The Old Course at St Andrews. But it may be the last time we see the current format as plans are in the pipeline to allow the sponsors more public exposure and make it into a Pro-Am event, similar to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every spring in California.

Last year, the Dunhill Cup, formerly the Canada Cup, received unprecedented, but welcome exposure to the world's media when Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones appeared in the Wednesday Pro-Am with pictures and stories being filed all over the world as well as getting precious air time on television and radio.

Dunhill Cup to change format
We could see three courses in play next year
Dunhill Cup to change format

The current format provides a different form of golf, Medal matchplay golf, where both players must complete a round of golf, the winning gross score of the individual matches taking the point.

The first stage is the 'Round Robin' group event with the winners and runners-up making the quarter finals and so on.

But that may change as plans are currently under negotiation with Alfred Dunhill, who may wish to see the event become a huge pro-Am, inviting some of Hollywood's top celebrities to St Andrews next year. Talks are in progress to play the event over three courses, similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament in February of each year on the PGA Tour.

There are 117-holes in the town of St Andrews and with the new and spectacular Kingsbarns now open for play in nearby Anstruther, there is no reason as to why the event cannot be staged on three courses.

Next to The Old Course is the New Course, which, if it was not for the Old Course, it would have been on the Open Championship rota many years ago. Also, the Jubilee Course could stage such a big event and would have excellent viewing for spectators.

But just outside the town are the new and delightful Dukes Course in Craigtoun Park, designed by Australian Peter Thomson and with Kingsbarns being rated already as one of the best natural links courses in the world, it too could witness Championship golf by this time next year.

Dunhill are reportedly in negotiations to alter the format of the matches because of the drop of quality players attending the last few events. This year sees a weak American Team with Larry Mize, although a major Champion, winning The Masters in 1987, he is ranked 127th in the world rankings. He joins Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard, both of those players missing out on the Presidents Cup this year.

Some big names have decided to attend the event again such as Ernie Els, winner with the South African team in 1997 and 1998 and runners up to Spain last year.

The South Africans are favourites again this year but they will be up against tough opposition form the Argentines, dark horses and with Romero and Coceres winning on tour this year.