Thursday 24 August 2017

Ireland's Paul Dunne has qualified for the US Open

Paul Dunne has qualified for the US Open
Paul Dunne has qualified for the US Open
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

PAUL Dunne has reached another major milestone in his short career as a Tour professional by qualifying to play in the US Open golf championship at Erin Hills, Wisconsin from June 15-18.

Dunne, 24, came through a seven-man playoff for the final four US Open places in the 36-hole sectional qualifying at Walton Heath today.

A total of 115 players entered, including Pádraig Harrington, with the top 15 earning a spot in the field for Erin Hills.

The event was played on the New Course and the Old Course at Walton Heath, and Dunne finished with a nine-under par 135, scoring 67 on the New and 68 on the Old.

That left him competing with Matt Wallace (England), South Africa’s Thomas Aiken, amateur David Boote (Wales), Australian Wade Ormsby, Gregory Bourdy of France, and Callum Shinkwin (Wales) for the four remaining places after 11 players had automatically qualified.

Dunne and Aiken edged through on the second playoff hole. Wallace and Ormsby got the job done at the third extra hole. The leading qualifier was Aaron Rai of England on -14. Haotong Lee of China came second on 13-under par. Alexander Levy (France) and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay finished joint third at -12.

Harrington was among the non-qualifiers. He shot 77 on the New Course and 68 on the Old. For Dunne, the achievement was extra special, as he battled through the BMW PGA Championship to finish tied-30 despite suffering from a throat infection. He famously was joint leader after 54 holes of the Open Championship at St Andrews in July 2015 as an amateur.

The Greystones golfer turned pro after helping GB and Ireland win the Walker Cup that year, and qualified for the Open in 2016 at Troon where he missed the cut.

He also came close to losing his card, but did enough towards the end of the campaign to keep his playing rights for 2017. This season he has already earned €471,560 and is 27th in the Race to Dubai.

Dunne will join Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell as the Irish contingent at the US Open. As of now McIlroy is scheduled to play in the championship he won in 2011, but remains a fitness doubt due to a recurrence of the rib injury he originally suffered in January.

The world number two has opted out of this week’s Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village in a bid to recover his fitness for the second major championship of the year.

Lowry and Harrington will play the Memorial, while Dunne is entered for the Nordea Masters in Sweden which starts on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Kevin Kisner shot a closing 66, four-under par, in the final round of the Dean &Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club to claim the second PGA Tour win of his career.

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