Phelps to play at St Andrews

Calcutta: Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, joins a world-class field of golf professionals for this week's prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

American swimmer Phelps made history in the Olympic Aquatic Centre in London earlier this year when he won four gold and two silver medals to take his career total of medals won to 22, made up of 18 gold, two silver and two bronze.

In 2008 in Beijing, he won eight gold medals to beat the long-standing record of seven gold medals at one Olympiad held by Mark Spitz from Munich in 1972. Phelps took up golf after Beijing and is being taught to play by Tiger Woods' old coach Hank Haney.

Phelps will join South African track star Oscar Pistorius, who runs on carbon fibre blades and this year became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. Pistorius also won two golds and a silver medal in the Paralympic Games.

Pistorius, who plays off 18 handicap, says: "It's a real treat to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. I'm a big golf fan and love the game. I have never played St Andrews, Carnoustie or Kingsbarns before, so playing them in a world-class event is a unique opportunity. There is so much history at St Andrews, every golfer longs to play there.

"As a South African it will be lots of fun to be playing in a tournament with other great names of the sport from my country in Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. I can't wait to get on the first tee. When the invitation came to play, not eve a holiday was going to stop me."

Also in the field is Hollywood star Greg Kinnear and rock music legends Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres. In a strong turn-out of sports stars, Phelps and Pistorius will be joined by former Olympic rowing legends Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave, Dutch football legends Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, former England player Jamie Redknapp, Scottish defender Alan Hansen, a strong team of cricketers in Ian Botham, Andrew Strauss, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne and rugby's Morn� du Plessis and Gavin Hastings.