Friday 30 September 2016

New beginning for Dunne as Fasth reaches 500 milestone

William S Callahan

Published 27/11/2015 | 02:30

Ireland's Paul Dunne during the Final Round of the British Open 2015
Ireland's Paul Dunne during the Final Round of the British Open 2015

Niclas Fasth made his first attempt at European Tour qualifying school in 1992, the same year Paul Dunne was born.

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Yesterday, as Dunne marked his 23rd birthday with a debut as a full member of the European Tour, Fasth (43) was making his 500th appearance as a Tour pro in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek GC in South Africa.

The Swede has won six times on Tour, played on the winning Ryder Cup team in 2002 and has earned in excess of €10m.

Impressive, indeed, but Dunne already has two achievements on his golfing CV which Fasth cannot match.

First, the Greystones man has featured in the final group in the last round of the Open Championship at St Andrews, and second, Dunne got his Tour card at his first attempt just a fortnight ago.

Fasth was a Tour School four times before he finally established himself as a regular on the circuit.

However, it's certain that as careers go, Dunne would be doing quite nicely, thank you, if he ended up in 20 years' time with a similar record to Fasth's.

He would also, no doubt, have preferred to swap yesterday's opening 73, one over par, for Fasth's 68.

Testament

Speaking about the notable milestone, Fasth said: "It's never felt like a grind, I've always enjoyed playing on Tour - which is just as well, because I've been out here a long time now.

"I started becoming aware of my 500th event towards the end of last season.

"It doesn't really change anything, but it's testament to having played quite well over a long period of time.

"The minute I stop enjoying it, it'll be time to pack up and do something else.

"There's a few other things I want to do with my life, but for now playing golf is still a great way to earn a living."

Fasth is the 31st player to have reached the 500 tournament mark, emulating the likes of Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

The early pace in the tournament was set by Christiaan Basson of South Africa, who shot an eight-under-par 64 for a three shot lead over nearest challengers Mark Williams of Zimbabwe and England's Matt Ford.

The threat of thunder and lightning caused a suspension of play at 5.26 local time (3.26pm Irish time), leaving 39 players to complete their first rounds today.

Mount Juliet pro Kevin Phelan had a solid 70, while Peter Lawrie was struggling for survival after a 79.

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