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Disappointed Dunne admits short game let him down

Irishman rues missed chances but closing birdie to seal second earns him an extra €36k

Jon Rahm celebrates with the Open de Espana winner’s trophy. Photo: Getty Images
Jon Rahm celebrates with the Open de Espana winner’s trophy. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Paul Dunne felt his short game let him down as he finished second to a rampaging Jon Rahm in the Open de España in Madrid.

Bidding to become the first wire-to-wire winner since Neil Coles in 1973, the Greystones star (25) had to make a 10-footer for birdie at 18th just to finish two shots behind the conquering home hero.

Paul Dunne teeing off at the second during yesterday’s final round. Photo: Getty Images
Paul Dunne teeing off at the second during yesterday’s final round. Photo: Getty Images

As Rahm closed with a five-under 67 to win his third European Tour title on 20-under par and become only the sixth Spanish winner since 1972, Dunne had to console himself with a late birdie that denied Spain's Nacho Elvira a share of second at the Centro Nacional de Golf.

"I felt like I hit the ball great but my short game let me down a little bit," said Dunne, who will tee it up in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco this week looking to go one better than last year's play-off defeat.

"I hit a lot of chips that I thought were better than they were but kept misjudging bounces. Some of them skidded and some of the bounced off. When I played for one, I got the other result.

Frustrating

"It was a little frustrating not to be able to get anything going, not get any putts to go in.

"My game was great. I hit the ball fantastic. I was hitting it long and straight. So while I feel good for the next few weeks, I am disappointed not to win.

"I will keep doing what I am doing - get through this evening because I am a little bit disappointed - but Spain has a great champion in Jon and I am sure he will win many more of these."

Elvira handed the title to Rahm when he hit his tee shot into the water at the 17th and made a double bogey just moments after the champion's tee shot hung up on the bank, allowing him to save what turned out to be a crucial par.

Two ahead playing the par-five 18th, Rahm reduced it to a drive, a mid-iron and two putts on greens that were far from perfect.

"This is hard to describe," said an emotional Rahm at the finish. "The feeling of pride and satisfaction is amazing.

"This is the hardest Sunday I have ever had to play. Everyone seemed to want me to win. I felt that. And it was hard to deal with. I tried to isolate myself, but I could feel it. So to win here is great."

His joy contrasted with Dunne's disappointment although the Greystones man will move to a career-high of 68th in world today. One ahead of Elvira and two clear of Rahm and Sweden's Henric Sturehed overnight, his closing birdie was worth an extra €36,380 as he picked up €166,660 for solo second.

Rahm (23) showed he was a special talent when winning two Rolex Series events last year - the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

But this was an even more impressive win considering the pressure on his shoulders.

"It's such a satisfying feeling," Rahm said after a round that featured just one blemish - a nervous three-putt at the ninth that he erased by chipping in for birdie at the 10th.

"When I made the decision to come straight from Augusta it wouldn't be to just show up and walk around; I wanted to win this tournament."

Playing in the penultimate group, just in front of Dunne and Elvira, Rahm birdied the first two holes to move into the lead and was a constant presence there until the end.

While Elvira eagled the par-five fifth to snatch the solo lead, it came between bogeys at the fourth and sixth and he would undo back nine birdies at the 13th and 14th with that double bogey at the 17th.

Dunne's deliberate pace of play left his group almost two holes behind the group in front by the back nine and that extra attention from officials could not have helped.

While he was tied for the lead when he birdied the 10th, the putts that fell for the first three days failed to drop.

Rahm would only birdie the 13th and 18th. But his back nine of 33 would prove enough as Dunne pulled his approach to the 11th and bogeyed, then failed to pitch and putt for birdie at the driveable 13th and bogeyed the par-three 14th when he came up short of the green and chipped 10 feet past.

While he birdied the 15th to get back to within two shots of Rahm and Elvira, there were to be no late mistakes from the eventual winner.

Irish Independent

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