Dunne wins first Tour title after stunning final round
Wicklow golfer Paul Dunne produced a stunning final round of 61 to sensationally claim his first European Tour title at the British Masters in Newcastle at the weekend.
The unforgettable final round, along with his first three rounds of 66, 68 and 65 for a -20 total, earned him €562,500 in prize money.
The victory propels the Greystones man in the top 100 of the World Rankings for the first time since he turned pro in 2015.
"It feels great," Dunne said. "It's nice to finally put the demon off my back and get my first win.
"I feel like I've been up there a few times this year and never got to put the foot down on Sunday so I woke up this morning determined to really try to win, rather than have someone hand it to me.
"I had a two-shot lead in Morocco and Edoardo finished birdie, eagle so I was just waiting for the leaderboard to show Rory having a hole-in-one on the last or something," he added.
He broke into the national and international consciousness that year at the British Open where he shared the lead after 54 holes as an amateur. Later than autumn he was part of the successful British and Ireland Walker Cup team that beat the United States by a record seven point margin.
Dunne has also risen to 12th in the Race to Dubai standings, the European Tour's season long Order of Merit, and has seven more events to move up the rankings. The win makes him an early front-runner for 2018 Ryder Cup qualification.
Dunne entered the final day tied for second and a shot behind Sweden's Robert Karlsson but his nine under par final round blew the field away, including a chasing Rory McIlroy who shot a final round 63 to finish in second place.
Speaking afterwards he said "Rory made a great charge, but I got off to such a quick start that I had a lead.
"I knew that if I kept bogeys off the card and gave myself chances on the holes then I'd be tough to catch."
He had seven birdies and an eagle in the final round, with a chip in birdie on the first giving him a share of the lead and a chip in birdie on the eighteenth giving him victory in style.
Lady luck was on his side too on the eleventh hole where he pulled his approach and looked like he would face a difficult chip short sided. His ball bounced on the edge of a sprinkler head instead and deflected towards the hole, rolling to within a few feet and a birdie. 61 is the lowest score in his career while his 260 total is the lowest winning total on the European Tour since 2011.
His performances have improved steadily since his Tour debut and he has six ten finishes in 51 appearances. Before his victory in Newcastle his highest result was in April when Edoardo Molinari edged him out in a play off in Morocco.
Dunne is the only Irish golfer to win a tour event on either the European or PGA Tour so far this year and the victory gives him a two-year exemption on the European Tour.