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Dunbar just off the pace after final-hole eagle

Alan Dunbar is on the heels of the leaders after the first round of the English Open Stroke Play Championship for the Brabazon Trophy at wind-swept Burnham and Berrow yesterday.

Dunbar put the bitter disappointment of failing to qualify for the match-play stages of the British Amateur Championship in Lancashire last week behind him to return a highly creditable one-over-par 72 to trail leader Neil Raymond of Southampton by just two strokes.

The Walker Cup squad member from Rathmore, Co Antrim, produced an amazing eagle two on the 445-yard 18th.

His second shot -- which sailed into the hole on the tricky last -- was a pure piece of theatre, which delighted the onlookers outside the clubhouse.

Earlier, Dunbar had recorded five bogeys but his strong birdie, par, eagle finish put him right in contention.

Reeve Whitson, from Mourne, also ended his round strongly coming home in 34 to add to his outward score of 39.

A disappointing spell in the middle of his outward nine -- bogeys on five and six and a double-bogey on seven -- threatened to spoil his round.

But he came home with eight pars and a birdie four on the 558-yard 13th -- the longest hole on the course.

His 73 kept him well in the hunt but Portstewart's Walker Cup hopeful Paul Cutler was very disappointing.

He posted a 79 in a round that included nine bogeys -- but did manage to end with a birdie three on the 18th.

Irish Independent