Dunne finds inner steel in warm-up for US Open
Paul Dunne might be making his professional debut in a Major this week but the Greystones ace believes his inner mental steel gives him a great chance of trumping his sensational Open Championship performance at St Andrews.
It's been nearly two years since the Wicklow man stunned the world as a 22-year-old amateur by taking a share of lead into the final round at the Home of Golf.
Now 24, Dunne insists he's not at Erin Hills just to make up the numbers and while he is not saying he can become the first qualifier to win since Michael Campbell in 2005, he reckons he'll be mentally ready this time thanks to his deep understanding of what makes him tick mentally.
"I'd be much better off now," he said when asked how he would deal with leading a Major into the final round now.
"That's not saying that I'll always get into that position. That week I had a course that suited me, I got the good side of a tough draw, and I was putting well. A lot of things have to go right to get in those positions, but I feel like I'd be well equipped to handle it if I got in there again."
The key, he said, is mental. "It's just about mindset. Everyone ticks differently and it's about learning what makes you tick. And getting yourself in the right place to want to move forward rather than stay where you are."
Asked what makes him "tick," Dunne smiled and said: "I wouldn't tell anyone that. That's just for me, for my own head. I haven't even told my mum or dad or my girlfriend. I like to keep my mental stuff private. I'll keep it close to the chest if that's okay."
Dunne tied for 30th after a closing 78 at St Andrews but he feels confident that his vastly improved driving will give him a great chance this week.
"You have to be a guy who hits it straight - not super-straight but relatively straight," he said, looking out at acres of deep fescue rough bordering generous fairways. "Average drives don't get punished here. It's bad drives that miss the fairway that get really punished - minimum one-shot penalty, and most likely two.
"If I drive it well and putt well, then everything else would have to be pretty bad for me not to do okay."