Saturday 18 November 2017

Dunne bids to be cut above amateur rivals

Paul Dunne is considered a strong contender for a place in the Walker Cup team
Paul Dunne is considered a strong contender for a place in the Walker Cup team

Paul Dunne will set the alarm clock extra early for his 6.43 tee time on day one of the 144th Open Championship tomorrow.

The 22-year-old amateur international from Greystones GC qualified for his second successive Open by winning the qualifying tournament at Woburn, just as he did in 2014.

He went on to narrowly miss the cut at Hoylake last year but hopes to use all that experience in only his second visit to St Andrews.

"It's brilliant. I have only played here once, so it was good to get a look at it today in pretty much benign conditions so we can see how it plays," he said.

The leading amateur wins the coveted Silver Medal, a prize won by Rory McIlroy in 2007, the year Padraig Harrington landed the Claret Jug at Carnoustie.

Dunne, a strong candidate for the Walker Cup team to play the USA in September, puts no pressure on himself to emulate McIlroy's achievement.

"To achieve that I would need to play all four rounds, and 72 holes of golf is a big challenge," he said.

"I'm just going to go out and try to focus on what I do every week and see what I shoot."

Dunne's playing partners for the first two rounds are Americans Todd Hamilton, 2004 Open champion, and James Hahn.

The Irish player will want to make a good start, but tempers hope and ambition with a hefty dose of realism.

"Obviously it would be great to make the cut and brilliant to win the Silver Medal but you can't really control those results," he said.

"It's obviously unlikely, but it is possible you could come second and not win the Medal, or you could come 50th and win it.

"It is not really under my control.

"I'll go out and take care of business like I usually do and see what I shoot."

Irish Independent

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