ST ANDREWS, September 3, 2017 – Jamie Redknapp played in some massive football matches in his distinguished career, yet he rates a unique round on the Old Course in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2009 as one of the best experiences in his sporting life.
Redknapp, now a TV and newspaper football analyst, said: “I played with Luke Donald and we made the cut. It was something very, very special, and I’ll never forget it.
“I remember looking up at the leaderboard after the third round. Luke was leading the tournament and Rory McIlroy was second. I knew what that meant – ‘I’m going to be out in the last group with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald in the final round on the Old Course!’
“I’ve had some real sporting highs in my life, but that was up there with my best. Obviously playing for my country at football was my highlight, but this was one of the best days of my life. Rory was playing with his dad Gerry, who is a great guy. It was brilliant.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play at Wembley, and at St Andrews, these are special places in the history of sport. You keep thinking back to all the great things that have happened there.”
Redknapp has made the cut twice in the six times he has played, on both occasions with Luke Donald. The other professionals he has been partnered with were Justin Rose, Simon Khan, Thomas Bjorn and last year with Rikard Karlberg.
“It’s a great format and I think the pro’s enjoy it,” said Redknapp. “Back in 2009, Luke and Rory were trying to win, so Gerry and I kept out of the way, but Luke was a real gentleman. Even if he hit a bad shot, he would come and give me some advice, about maybe the club I was taking.”
Jamie played golf as a youngster with his famous football manager father Harry Redknapp, but only really fell in love with the game when he retired because of injuries at the age of 31.
“It filled a massive void in my life. When you play football, you have that buzz and passion. I think that’s why so many sportsmen turn to golf. I can’t get enough, though the first time I played the Dunhill I was so nervous I didn’t think I was going to get the ball on the tee. I still get nervous, it’s ridiculous.”
What about playing in front of spectators? He used to play in front of thousands of football fans at Wembley?
“Yes, but I was good at football,” he smiled. “With golf it’s totally different.”
What are his targets this year?
“I would love to make the cut again, but I won’t go to St Andrews thinking that. I just go there to have a great week, meet some fantastic, interesting people, hopefully hit some good shots and just enjoy it. Though once the competitive juices are flowing, you certainly get interested on the last day if you are in sight of making the cut. Alan Hansen and I always used to have a bet on who would finish higher.”
In his career, Redknapp played for Bournemouth, Tottenham, Liverpool and Southampton and won 17 caps for England. Now he is enjoying a new career as a media pundit.
“I’ve been very lucky. I love being at Sky, everyone is so passionate, and the quiz show A League of Their Own has become really successful.”
Does he regret not going into coaching like his father Harry?
“That’s still a possibility in time, but at the moment I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing. I’ve got a young family as well. If I go into management, it would be full on, but you never know.”