Wednesday 7 December 2016

Veteran Harrington and Tour rookie Dunne both men on a mission

Published 20/10/2016 | 02:30

Dunne, the young tyro, is rounding off his debut campaign since earning his playing rights at Tour School last year. Picture credit: Bill Murray / SPORTSFILE
Dunne, the young tyro, is rounding off his debut campaign since earning his playing rights at Tour School last year. Picture credit: Bill Murray / SPORTSFILE

Padraig Harrington and Paul Dunne are at different stages of their careers but they have a common goal in the Portugal Masters which starts today at Victoria Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura.

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Harrington, the old master, is in the closing stages of his 21st season on Tour.

Dunne, the young tyro, is rounding off his debut campaign since earning his playing rights at Tour School last year.

Opposite ends of the spectrum in one sense, but each of them needs a good performance.

Harrington, a three-time Major champion, has stuttered way too much for his own liking in the last two months.

At 45, he still has the fire in his belly to achieve more in the game, and the flame of desire was kept alive by his 2015 Honda Classic victory on the PGA Tour.

This year his best performance has been a sixth place in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

A succession of missed cuts in his last three tournaments since the Olympics in August, particularly in his most recent outing at the Dunhill Links, is a cause for concern.

A past winner of the Dunhill, he expected to do well.

"Missing any cut is a disappointment but missing it in one of my favourite tournaments is worse," he lamented.

"Since coming back from my break after the Olympics, I have missed three cuts in a row, all by a shot."

Harrington cited a loss of distance as a puzzling aspect of his game and before teeing off today had worked on the issue with coach Pete Cowen.

Whatever about performance and results, Harrington has no worries about where he will play next year due to his exempt status on the European Tour and his PGA Tour winner's exemption for the Honda Classic triumph.

Dunne, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on November 26, has coped pretty well with the travelling and the challenges presented to any Tour rookie in his first season.

The Greystones man now needs to copper-fasten his status for 2017.

Currently he is ranked 101 on the Race To Dubai order of merit and would hope to maintain or improve on that placing by Sunday evening.

Dunne is on €260,793 - just €15,742 ahead of England's Eddie Pepperell, who occupies the rear gunner's 110th slot in the latest rankings.

Michael Hoey, ranked 186th, is the only other Irishman in the field at Vilamoura.

The PGA Tour action is a long way from the USA this week - in Malaysia to be precise, for the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur. No Irish are in action there.

World amateur No 1 and Curtis Cup winning team member Leona Maguire plays in stage two of the LPGA qualifying school in Venice, Florida.

Portugal Masters

Live, Sky Sports 4, 11.30am

CIMB Classic

Live, Sky Sports 4, 3.30am

Indo Sport

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