The spectators at the 18th green on the Old Course, St Andrews, in the shadow of the distinguished R&A clubhouse, raised their arms in acclamation and roared their delight.
They were saluting one of the shots of the 2015 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Not from Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington or Martin Kaymer, as it happened, but from popular film actor Jamie Dornan.
This is one of the joys of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Sporting achievement transcends the professionals and can come from unlikely sources. As Jamie himself says: “You can be hacking around and still be captured by the Sky cameras.”
His feat was to eagle the par-4 18th hole, perhaps the most famous finishing hole in golf. His drive was short of the green and in the Valley of Sin, but his 30-foot putt, up and over the hill, found the hole for the eagle two.
Jamie said at the time: “That’s up there as one of the most amazing feelings of my life. Whatever your standard, you have your moments in golf when you play a great shot, but it’s usually on some dirt track of a course. To do that here at St Andrews, on the 18th, well, that’s the closest I am going to get to winning the Open.”
From Holywood, the same town in Northern Ireland as Rory McIlroy, he added: “It’s a shame Rory wasn’t here to see that, but I’ll be texting him to let him know.”
Reflecting on the shot ten months later, as he looks forward to returning to this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship from October 6-9, he says: “It was my greatest ever sporting achievement. The drive was the better part. The putt was a bit of a fluke.”
Jamie, star of last year’s blockbuster film Fifty Shades of Grey, and widely praised for his portrayal of serial killer Paul Spector in the BBC TV drama The Fall, says he loved every second of his debut as an amateur, partnering England’s Danny Willett in the Team Championship, who in 2016 won The Masters at Augusta.
Did Jamie give him some useful tips for Augusta? “Put it this way, Danny’s game came on immensely after getting to watch me closely over three days. That’s all I’ll say on that.” Jamie says he only plays around six rounds of golf each year, and although he is a competitive person, playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links is all about having fun.
What lessons did he learn from last year? “A golfer of my level simply can’t score well around Carnoustie.” Of his acting career, he says the film he is most proud of is Anthropoid, and he most enjoyed making the series The Fall. “I appreciate and enjoy every job, but the crew on The Fall are like family to me now.”