Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen is looking forward to an “incredibly special” golfing return to Courier Country.
Pietersen, who played 104 Test matches and scored 8,181 runs for England, is among the celebrities returning to play in next month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
He paid tribute to the enthusiasm with which the world’s top golfers embrace the amateur players in the championship which is played over St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
Pietersen said: “It’s one of the very special sporting weeks of the year.
“I just enjoy being part of the event and playing there.
“You are allowed into the professionals’ arena and you are playing with them.
“It’s incredibly special.
“I understand what professionals are like when they are in the zone.
“I think it’s wonderful how they let amateurs like me into their space.
“If I was playing at Lord’s, the MCG or in Sydney, I wouldn’t want them batting alongside me.”
Pietersen said Kingsbarns is his favourite course of the three and described it as “beautiful and picturesque”.
He said the course reminds him of The National in Australia which is situated on the seaside farmlands of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Pietersen will be joined in Courier Country by Shane Warne, Sir Ian Botham and Mark Boucher but said there would be no rivalry between the cricketers.
“Last year all the cricketers threw in £200 a head and the winner took the pot,” he said.
“That’s the nearest I get to competitive.
“I’m not competitive at all at golf.
“I only began to play seriously a couple of years ago, and now I love it.
“It challenges my mental space like cricket did.
“I’m off seven handicap now and I just want to become as good as I can get.”
A world class field of golfers will team up with some of the biggest names from entertainment and sport at the championship.
Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan will also be returning having first played in 2014 and again last year.
He only plays around six rounds of golf each year, and although he is a competitive person, he said playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links is all about having fun.
Asked what lessons did he learn from last year, he replied: “A golfer of my level simply can’t score well around Carnoustie.”
Last year’s championship was won by Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, who finished two shots clear of American duo Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud.
Previous winners include Branden Grace, Martin Kaymar, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Paul Lawrie.