'I can always say I led the Open' - Ireland's Paul Dunne on dream start at St Andrews
Published 16/07/2015 | 14:12
After being mistaken for Jordan Spieth several times this week, Irish amateur Paul Dunne did a pretty good impression of the world number two on the course as well with an opening 69 at St Andrews.
Dressed in the same make of clothes as the Masters and US Open champion, Dunne shared the early lead in the 144th Open Championship after teeing off in the second group and making birdies on the first two holes.
The 22-year-old from Greystones also produced a superb pitch to birdie the fifth and holed from 45 feet for another across the ninth green, but dropped his only shot of the day on the 11th and parred the last seven holes.
Asked what he was thinking after his flying start, the University of Alabama student admitted: "My first thought was is anyone at home going to take a picture of it on the computer screen and send it to me later?
"It was cool to see my name on the screen. When I'm 70 years old sitting in a bar with a pint I can tell someone I led the Open. Hopefully I can do it a few more times in the future."
Dunne, who came through final qualifying at Woburn for the second year running, added: "It was an early start but I got off to a nice start. I was really nervous on the first tee but once I got off the tee I felt quite comfortable and it was nice to birdie the first two holes and get the round off and running.
"As the day went on it was disappointing to bogey 11. I went out with a number in my head trying to shoot 68 so I came up just short, but I'm pretty pleased with a 69.
"I did not feel as much out of my comfort zone in the practice rounds as I did last year and got a strategy ready for the course. Last year (he missed the cut at Hoylake) I was a bit overwhelmed and more worried about who I was playing with. This time I got some nice compliments off a few people like Francesco Molinari and Graeme McDowell which settled me down."
As for his resemblance to Spieth, Dunne added: "When I put my head down people just see the hat and I get asked for a few autographs. Then I lift my head and they are disappointed!"
A quadruple bogey on the 17th saw Shane Lowry drop from -3 to +1 and he eventually carded a very frustrating 73.
After bogeys on the first and fourth, Lowry battled back but his good work was undone at the penultimate hole.
Graeme McDowell is on level par with former champion Darren Clarke alongside Lowry on one over.