Dunne delight at exposure to PGA Tour's bright lights
Published 28/01/2016 | 02:30
Paul Dunne makes his PGA Tour debut at the star-studded Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines today hoping to build on his steady start to his professional career.
The 23-year-old from Greystones has looked at home on the European Tour after securing his card at qualifying school in November but is taking advantage of a gap in his schedule to play in the US, where he attended the same college as former US Open champion Graeme McDowell.
"I'm very excited to make my PGA Tour debut this week and spend a few weeks in California," Dunne, who turned professional after helping Great Britain and Ireland to a record Walker Cup win, told a pre-tournament press conference.
"When I was playing in college I was always striving to turn pro and play golf on a professional tour and I was excited to get my European Tour card back in November. And now I have a few weeks off the European Tour I'm really excited to see what the PGA Tour has to offer.
"Category 16 status on the European Tour is for Q-School graduates, so it doesn't get you in every event. When I was looking at the schedule I knew I had the first couple of events in South Africa (he finished ninth in the Joburg Open) and then my category wouldn't get me into the events in the desert swing.
"So I knew I had a good break in tournaments and then we just sought places to play and looked to America. We were lucky enough to get invites over here.
"Obviously the overall goal for me would be to end up on the PGA Tour so any exposure I can get to that early is great. In terms of goals for the week, I kind of set my goals at the start of the year to just try and improve every day. Get better each week and let results take care of themselves."
World No 2 Jason Day is a doubt for the defence of his title at Torrey Pines after being laid low by a virus. Day pulled out of the pre-tournament pro-am but hopes to be fit enough to play today's opening round of the $6.4m event, one of the five tournaments he won in 2015.
The good news for fans of the US PGA champ is that the last time he missed a pro-am, he went on to shoot 61 in the opening round of the Barclays and win for the third time in four starts. New world No 4 Rickie Fowler makes the 17-hour trip from Abu Dhabi after winning his second European Tour title. Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose are also competing.
Meanwhile, Michael Hoey sits just three shots off the lead in the Qatar Masters after a first round of four-under-par 68. Louis Oosthuizen and Pablo Larrazabal lead the way on seven-under.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters,
Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.30am/11.0am
Farmers Insurance Open,
Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.0pm