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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Gamble fails at damp Dunhill
Hollywood star Michael Douglas during the rain-delayed third round of the Dunhill Links Championship
Michael Douglas puts on brave face at St Andrews
By BBC Sport Online's Lewis Wiltshire

The rain which has fallen on the parade of the inaugural Dunhill Links Championship shows no sign of abating.

Besieged by the elements and an increasing number of detractors, tournament organisers admitted for the first time on Monday that the new format had been "a gamble."

But Peter German, the competition director, stopped short of admitting it was one which had not paid off.


We've never had four days of consistently bad weather as we've had here, so I think we've been very unlucky
Tournament director Peter German
The tournament, a replacement for the Dunhill Cup international team event, has been widely criticised on three fronts: location, format and timing.

The first three rounds of the competition were staged in rotation at St Andrews, Kings Barns and Carnoustie, which is a 40-minute drive from the other venues.

The large field - 156 professionals joined by an equal number of amateurs - made "life pretty difficult sometimes", according to German.

But the most scorn has been reserved for the inclusion of celebrities.

Record prize fund

Earlier this week one professional told BBC Sport Online: "Amateurs get a little upset if we don't speak to them on the course, but I never usually say that much to other players during a round."

German defended the decision to invite the likes of Michael Douglas, Samuel L Jackson and Hugh Grant to the tournament which offers a British record 3.5m prize fund.

Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie shelters from the rain
He told BBC Five Live: "It is a serious golf tournament and I don't think it is a gimmick at all," he maintained.

German went on to claim that the use of celebrities was an attempt to dispell golf's "slightly fuddy-duddy image".

The mood of the detractors has not been helped by four solid days of rain.

Why, it has been asked, did they hold a tournament in Fife in mid-to-late October?

Ernie Els joined the debate when he said: "The tour's really got to look at the date of this tournament."

German pointed out there had been 15 Alfred Dunhill Cups at the same venues.

"We had, I think, one delay over those 15 years, one Monday finish."

He added: "We've never had four days of consistently bad weather as we've had here, so I think we've been very unlucky."

Defence

Even so, the Dunhill will probably be brought forward slightly next year to the week after the Ryder Cup, which has been rescheduled for 27-29 September.

At least one golf star - Darren Clarke - leapt to German's defence.

"I think it's pretty unfair to have this criticism levelled at the tournament," he said.

"The weather is the only thing you can't control and it's very harsh to give the tournament a hard time because of that - it's been very, very unlucky."

The Scottish public have largely turned their backs on the event.

Organisers looking ahead to next year will hope that was because of the weather rather than the inclusion of celebrities.

Certainly the split venues have not put off the pros.

Colin Montgomerie said: "We have the three best courses - people are willing to travel an awful long way to play them."

German and his fellow organisers need to make sure spectators are equally enthusiastic.

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Peter German
"It is a serious golf tournament and I don't think it is a gimmick at all."
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