Friday 24 May 2019

Dunne taking driving ambition to the fore next season

Dunne (pictured) knows that his play from the tee will be key in 2018. Photo: Sportsfile
Dunne (pictured) knows that his play from the tee will be key in 2018. Photo: Sportsfile

Williams S Callahan

Paul Dunne will be seeking to improve his driving next year as he bids to follow up on his sensational 2017 campaign by challenging for a Ryder Cup place.

The Greystones star closed with a two-over 72 to finish 11 strokes behind an emotional Wade Ormsby in the UBS Hong Kong Open - the opening event of the 2018 European Tour season - on level par.

A share of 41st wasn't quite the way Dunne envisioned celebrating his 25th birthday as 37-year-old Australian Ormsby finally got over the winning line in Europe after Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello bogeyed the last to miss out on a playoff.

After claiming his maiden European Tour victory in last month's British Masters and surging into contention for a Ryder Cup debut next year, Dunne knows that his play from the tee will be key in 2018.

"My short game has been sharp, and my putting has been really good inside 10 feet," Dunne said, who will reappear at the EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur from January 12-14. "I don't think I holed as many 15-20 footers as I could so that's an area that could improve.

"But for me, it is always about driving. The more I drive the ball in the fairway, the better I will do.

"I hit less destructive drives than I did last year, but when I was off the fairway, I was in play more often, which is something I always need to improve on.

"It has been a good year, pretty consistent regarding form. There is always something that feels pretty good and something that is struggling."

Hoping to maintain his 2017 form in the New Year and challenge for a place in Thomas Bjorn's European Ryder Cup side to face the USA in Paris, Dunne added: "It's been a good year and something to build off so hopefully I will just keep doing what I am doing, improve in a few areas and just keep getting better. That would be nice."

As for the UBS Hong Kong Open, Ormsby was a shot behind SSP Chawrasia heading into the final round and four behind his Indian rival after a level par front nine.

But Chawrasia triple-bogeyed the ninth to bring a host of players back into contention and while Ormsby three-putted the last for bogey, his 68 for an 11-under par total was just good enough.

Cabrera Bello needed only a par at the 18th to force a playoff. But he bunkered his approach and failed to save par from 10 feet, finishing a shot behind the winner for the second consecutive year.

The Spaniard tied for second on 10-under-par with Sweden's Alexander Björk, and Americans Paul Peterson and Julian Suri as Ormsby celebrated his first European Tour win after 264 starts.

"This feels amazing," said Ormsby, who has had to return four times to the European Tour Qualifying School since first earning his card in 2004.

"I'm trying to hold it together here, but I'm pretty stoked. Well, not pretty stoked, very stoked."

Ormsby was particularly thrilled to get his name on the trophy alongside hero Greg Norman, who won the event twice.

"The first thing I look at is Greg Norman's, so that's cool," said Ormsby whose only other win came on the Asian Tour in 2013. "I'm a bit emotional."

European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood shot 69 to finish just two shots behind Ormsby on nine-under-par with Chawarsia's 72 leaving him tied for seventh with American Micah Lauren Shin and four-time winner Miguel Angel Jimenez, who closed with a 63.

More than 7,000km away in Sydney, Cameron Davis (22) upstaged stars Jason Day and Jordan Spieth to claim his first pro victory the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club.

Six shots behind Day overnight, Davis closed with a seven-under 64 to win by a shot on 11-under par from Sweden's Jonas Blixt and fellow Australian Matt Jones, who both shot 68. Day shot a two-over 73 to finish tied fifth as defending champion Spieth eagled the last for a 67 and a share of eighth on six-under.

Irish Independent

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