Danny Willett struggles on opening day of Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Danny Willett’s hopes of back-to-back European Tour titles suffered a blow as he struggled on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Willett carded a level par 72 at Carnoustie, leaving him in a tie for 121st in the tournament played across three courses.
The consolation for the Sheffield golfer may come from the fact Carnoustie proved the toughest scoring of the three venues on Thursday as he heads to Kingsbarns on Friday, with a 9.22am start.
Willett – who won the BMW PGA Championship last week – started his round on the tenth and looked to be heading for a decent finish when carding consecutive birdies on five and six.
But a double bogey six on the ninth – his final hole – left him on level par, nine shots behind overnight leader Justin Walters of South Africa, who played at St Andrews on Thursday.
Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who also played at Carnoustie, is better placed having posted a three under par 69.
Back-to-back bogeys on the final two holes hurt Fitzpatrick, who had posted a string of birdies in what was a decent round in the conditions.
Like Willett, Fitzpatrick heads to Kingsbarns on Friday with a 9am start before the third round at St Andrews on Saturday.
After Saturday’s third round comes the cut, with the final 18 holes played at St Andrews on Sunday.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship also features a pro-am team event.
Both Willett and Fitzpatrick sit on -4, eight shots behind a trio of leading teams.
Fitzpatrick is teamed with former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Figo while Willett is playing alongside businessman Mohammed Farooq.