Dunne edges towards a perfect ending to 'long year'
Published 19/11/2015 | 02:30
A Jaded Paul Dunne shrugged off some "ropey" swings to move within touching distance of his European Tour card and a dream finish to a magical year at the Qualifying School in Spain.
The Greystones ace (22), dug deep to card a bogey-free, three-under 69 in the fifth round of the gruelling Final Stage to jump six places to tied 12th in the race to finish among the top 25 and ties ahead of today's final round.
Even though he's contemplating semi-retirement, Kells grinder Damien McGrane (44) is also in position to win back his card after a trademark 72 on the tough Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort left him tied 18th on eight under.
"I am delighted with the 69 considering how I played," said Dunne, who hit a five-iron to two feet at the 208-yard fifth and two putted from the fringes of the seventh and 12th for birdie fours to end the day seven strokes off the lead on 10-under par.
"I hit a lot of ropey shots out there so to keep a bogey off the card was a goal of mine and I was happy to do that."
Dunne insists he's feeling no pressure but after some loose swings on the last few holes he admitted he's keen to get home and rest before contemplating the possibility of playing two 2016 season events in South Africa and Australia before Christmas if he wins his card today.
"It's been a really long year but I am enjoying the week and looking forward to getting back to my bed," add Dunne.
Pinching himself after a dream season that saw him lead The Open through 54 holes and win the Walker Cup with four Irish team-mates by his side, Dunne said: "A year ago my main goal was to get through Q-School, so everything that has happened in the meantime has been a nice bonus and I have tried to take it in my stride as well as I can.
"It is beyond what I would have pictured at the start of the year but I am not going to step back from any opportunities that arise. It's been a great year but it is not finished yet. I have a few weeks left."
McGrane admitted he "got bitten in the a**e" at the par-three fifth, where he made a double bogey after finding the water, just 24 hours after chipping in there for birdie.
"I can't complain, it probably evened itself out," McGrane said of his day. His aggression on the greens cost him a brace of three-putt bogeys, but he also had four birdies and remains in position to win back his card as he fell just four spots, one shot inside the crucial top 25 and ties.
Simon Thornton and Kevin Phelan had no luck on the greens and definitively kissed their chances goodbye after rounds of 74 and 75 respectively saw them fall back to 68th on level par.