Sunday 18 August 2019

Flawless Paul Dunne right in contention following brilliant first round in DP World Tour Championship

Paul Dunne of Ireland hits his third shot on the 18th
Paul Dunne of Ireland hits his third shot on the 18th

Paul Dunne leads the Irish charge in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai following a fine 67 to leave him just two shots off leader Patrick Reed.

Dunne and fellow Irishman Shane Lowry know a win in the season-ending competition would see them tick a huge item off their wish lists and secure Masters invitations.

And Dunne has got off to a brilliant start, carding five birdies and 13 pars for a -5, 67.

The Wicklowman, who secured his first win on Tour at the British Masters earlier this year, picked up shots at the second, seventh, eighth, 13th and 14tth.

Lowry, Meanwhile, is a further two strokes back thanks to a 69 that saw him birdie the second, 11th, 14th and 18th with just one dropped shot coming on the 12th. 

American Patrick Reed set an imposing clubhouse target as Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood looked to recover from a nightmare start.

Despite waking up with a bad back, Reed carded a flawless 65 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish seven under par and a shot ahead of Australia's Scott Hend, who bogeyed the last in his 66.

"I feel like the hard work I did with my coach right after Mexico (the OHL Classic) really paid off coming to this week," Reed, the world number 23, said.

"I felt like the swing was right where it needed to be and I woke up this morning and had this really awful pain in my back, close to my shoulder.

"The warm-up wasn't how I wanted. I was kind of spraying it and then my caddie just looked at me and reminded me, 'Hey, you're a gamer, not a range guy. Let's get off to a good start, hit some fairways and hit some greens.'

"Any time you can start birdie, birdie it gets you started and I was able to right the ship and make some putts and hit some good shots."

Fleetwood, who has a lead of 256,738 points over Justin Rose in the battle to end the season as European number one, seemed to be feeling the pressure as he double-bogeyed the first hole and dropped another shot on the third.

However, the 26-year-old from Southport steadied the ship with a birdie on the fifth before a superb approach to the par-five seventh set up an eagle from eight feet.

A bogey on the 10th dropped Fleetwood back to one over par and three shots behind playing partner Rose, who needs a top five finish to have any chance of topping the money list for a second time.

The Olympic champion birdied the second and seventh and bounced back from a three-putt bogey on the ninth to birdie the 10th and lie two under.

Additional reporting from PA

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