From college player to potential millionaire.
Golfer Paul Dunne may be the next Irish sportstar worth over €1m should he decide on turning professional, according to top sports management agents.
Dunne put on an impressive performance, leading the British Open going into the last day of the tournament.
Although he missed out on the €1.66m prize money, he would not have been able to claim it anyway as an amatuer, but depending on bonuses and endorsement deals the 22-year-old from Greystones could easily see more than €1m before 2016, according to Mick O’Keeffe, CEO of PR firm PSG Communications.
However, “we would be advising that he waits until after the Walker Cup before making a decision,” O’Keeffe said. “What normally happens in these situations is that there’s huge pressure on amateurs who do well to turn professional.
“Once he plays the Walker Cup the expectation would be that he’d turn professional after that.
“So as he can’t make money until he’s professional, there’s no major rush on him to do it but he’d probably need to do it before the end of the year,” O’Keeffe added.
If the University of Alabama player decides on making the move to the professional ranks, sport management companies will be fighting over him, O’Keeffe has claimed.
“Basically for an amateur to even come in the top 20 of the British Open is fantastic and would catapult him way up in terms of marketability and earning potential.
“I think all the sports management agencies will be trying to get a piece of the action. He does have huge potential. I mean for a guy who’s only 22 years of age and for a guy to be at that level at that stage in his life is a huge result.
“I suppose his ambition would have been to win the amateur medal, but he ended up being in contention to win the thing outright.”
But Dunne should tackle the problem in the same way another former amateur golfer did in 2007 when he won the Irish Open, according to John Trainor, Onside Sports CEO.
“The other example of a guy who shot to fame in this way would be Shane Lowry after he won the Irish Open and turned pro straight away. You’d expect Dunne to attract sponsors from clothing companies and everything else that goes with golf as well,” he said.
Dunne dismissed suggestions that Lowry turned professional too soon.
“[Lowry] hasn’t done badly for himself. The proof for him is he’s having a really good career now. Dunne should turn pro when he’s ready,” he said.
“He should have the prestige of playing in the Walker Cup under his belt before turning pro.”
Golf has the highest participation rate of any sport among Irish men, with one in eight men now playing, according to figures from Onside Sports.
A third of Irish men follow golf on TV while one fifth of Irish women watch the sport.