Friday 21 July 2017

Grounded Dunne looks to build on French positives

Ireland's Paul Dunne. Photo: Bill Murray / Sportsfile
Ireland's Paul Dunne. Photo: Bill Murray / Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

What a difference a week makes to a professional golfer.

Eight days ago, Paul Dunne had a miserable experience in the build-up to the HNA Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris when he lost ten golf balls.

This, the day before the second event in the Rolex Series, a tournament which carried a prize fund of $7 million (€6.2 million).

By Sunday evening, the agony of Wednesday had turned to delight for the Greystones man when a final-round 65 saw him collect €100,000 for his performance, taking his earnings for the season so far to €576,479.

Yesterday, he reflected on a weird - and profitable - week.

"I lost ten golf balls on the Wednesday. If you had told me I'd shoot 65 on the Sunday, I'd have said you were bonkers.

"On Thursday, I had ten putts on the front nine the first day to be out in level-par, so I was still struggling a little bit.

Putting

"My putting kept me in it on Thursday, and then Friday, towards the end of the week, I started to hit it better. I started to find some things. Then on Sunday I just hit it better and I continued to putt well, so that's why the scores were good.

"I got good breaks here and there. I holed a bunker shot for par on the 10th, and little things like that you need to shoot a good score. It was nice. It makes everything feel free this week.

"I had a nice couple of 'Brucey Bonuses' towards the end. I holed a 40-footer on the last and chipped in on 17, so I made a bit of money with those two," said the 24-year-old.

As he never had the opportunity to play in it as an amateur, this is just Dunne's second time to tee it up in our national Open, as he looks for his maiden Tour victory, having come closest when losing a play-off to Edoardo Molinari in the Trophee Hassan II in April.

Of course, it was in another Open where Dunne announced himself to the world back in 2015 when he started the final round of the British Open in the final group after three days of superb golf, before eventually finishing tied-30th.

He is not yet clear to play in Royal Birkdale this year, however, preferring to compete for Race to Dubai points in Portstewart and at the Scottish Open next week.

If he claimed a top-three finish in either event, that would give him a passport to the Open.

If not, Dunne will shed no tears.

This is no disrespect to the oldest Major of them all, rather a honing of his sights on progress as a pro. He is 27th in the Race to Dubai, and staying inside the top 30 at the end of the year is a goal.

"I'm not overly fussed about the Open to be honest.

"If I get into it, great; a few years ago getting in the Open would have been a big goal, but now that I have played a couple, just getting in is kind of gone off the list of goals.

"If you get in, you want to do well. But I have to focus on the tournaments that I am in, and do the best I can in them. Last week and this week and the Scottish Open are three big events.

"Hopefully I can play well, and get in the Open, but that's why I skipped the qualifying."

The French Open experience means that Dunne carries some momentum into the Irish event, so it's fingers crossed that he gets the same kind of 'crazy golf' that worked so well in France.

Dunne starts off on the first tee at 1.10pm with Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton.

Irish Independent

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