Sport Golf

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Dunne making Major plans

Greystones man aiming for Ryder Cup and US Open ahead of $80m odyssey

Paul Dunne and Maria Dunne with the WATC trophy at the 100 day countdown launch for the World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House. Photo: Fran Caffrey/Golffile
Paul Dunne and Maria Dunne with the WATC trophy at the 100 day countdown launch for the World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House. Photo: Fran Caffrey/Golffile

Brian Keogh

Paul Dunne embarks on an 80-day around the world odyssey this week looking for his share of a $77.7 million (€66 million) jackpot and the chance to claim Major glory and a Ryder Cup debut.

The Greystones star (25) tees it up for $7 million (€5.9 million) Rolex Series prize funds in BMW PGA at Wentworth and Italian Open over the next fortnight knowing that just one good week could be enough to catapult him into the world's top 60, securing his place in next month's US Open at Shinnecock Hills.

The season's second Major is the only event that's not set in stone for the world No 73 over the next two and a half months. But after an excellent start to the season, he's confident that his game is in good enough shape to have a fighting chance of making the world's top 60 by the June 11 deadline and avoid sectional qualifying for the US Open at Walton Heath on June 4.

"Every event I am playing the next while is big," Dunne said before jetting out to London yesterday to join Rory McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry at Wentworth.

"The smallest event I am playing the next three months is a Rolex event in terms of purse, so if I am in the US Open, I go Wentworth, Italian Open, US Open, France, Ireland, Scotland, The Open, Bridgestone and the (US) PGA.

"I have got a great run of Rolex events, WGCs and Majors, so I am just concentrating on trying to keep my game in a good place, trying to do as well as I can every week and seeing if I can give myself a chance to win."

With Ryder Cup points multiplying by 1.5 from this week, Dunne knows that victory at Wentworth on Sunday or in next week's Italian Open, would put him halfway towards making his debut under Thomas Bjorn in Paris where Harrington will be an assistant captain.

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"Everything is good," said Dunne, who has recorded four top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including a share of second behind Jon Rahm in the Open de Espana.

"I've had a good eight-week run and my game is in good shape. I am hitting the ball really nicely and my short game seems to be there, so things are good. They are two big weeks and I am looking to it."

Dunne tied for 30th on his Wentworth debut last year and after returning recently for a practice round, he flew out to London yesterday with high hopes.

"It's obviously a great course," he said. "I like the big, tall treelined parklands anyway. It should suit me and the greens will be really firm with that SubAir system, so they can put the pins wherever they want and make it as hard as they want. Hopefully it is a good week."

While he practised recently at Dubai Duty Free Irish Open venue Ballyliffin and had a game at The European Club last week, he's not yet thinking of Europe's links swing, his world ranking or the Ryder Cup but taking things one event at a time.

But with Harrington confirmed yesterday as one of Bjorn's assistants for Paris, Dunne admitted that he'd love to play under the Dubliner, who is openly seeking the 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy.

"I will have to start buying him dinners," Dunne joked. "I think he is the greatest sportsman Ireland has ever had... there is always something you can learn from him.

"He is not fully orthodox, he does things his way, but what's great about him is he is never afraid to try something to see if it works. He doesn't get embarrassed by anything."

Carton set to host amateur dramatics

Paul Dunne is urging fans to get behind the Irish teams that will bid for gold when Ireland hosts the World Amateur Team Championships for the first time at Carton House this summer.

With just 100 days to go before the cream of world amateur golf tees it up, Ireland's world No 73 believes it's an unmissable opportunity to see future world stars in action.

"The standard is just really high," said Dunne, who tied for 22nd in Japan in 2014 when Spain's Jon Rahm smashed Jack Nicklaus' 72-hole scoring record to win the individual title and Bryson DeChambeau helped the USA win the Eisenhower Trophy.

"It's a great spectacle and a great tournament to watch if you want to see future champions. In all my time in amateur golf that was the hardest team I have ever had to make."

Irish Independent

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