While pro golfer Branden Grace of South Africa lit up the course on day 1 of the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a score of 60 – the lowest of the year on the European Tour so far and a course record - former pro swimmer Michael Phelps sits in 160th place with his partner.
The tournament is taking place on the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland (along with two nearby courses – Grace broke the record on the Kingsbarns course, Phelps played on Carnoustie), and features both a professional tournament, as well as a Pro-Am segment where many amateurs (read: celebrities) are paired up with a pro for a combined score. Huge prizes were abound.
Phelps and his partner Paul Casey combined for an even-par 72 (Casey himself was a 72) to place them near the bottom of the leaderboard – 160th out of 168 – but ahead of South African track star Oscar Pistorious, who is at +2. The highlight of Pistorious’ day was a birdie on the par four 2nd hole.
Phelps and Casey will move to Kingsbarn and then finally the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews in the next two days.
The leaders are Grace and his partner Graynor Rupert with a 15-under-par 57 in the first round – a score that will be a challenge to beat. Phelps doesn’t have an individual score, as in this format the lowest score on each hole goes on the card. Phelps admitted that he didn’t complete all of the holes (when it became evident that he wouldn’t lower Casey’s score, he picked his ball up) but said he was soaking in the atmosphere.
The team finishing with a 72, identical to Casey’s individual score, means that Phelps was equal-to or worse-than his partner on each of the 18 holes in this hole format. This experience, combined with his visit to the Ryder Cup last week, is all a precursor to Phelps’ participation in the upcoming Haney Project on the Golf Channel, where Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney will attempt to help him perfect his swing.