Sunday 17 February 2019

'I don't really know how the whole thing works' - Ireland's Paul Dunne not thinking about Ryder Cup

Paul Dunne lines up a putt at the Open de Espana. Photo: Sportsfile
Paul Dunne lines up a putt at the Open de Espana. Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Paul Dunne insists he's given no thought to the Ryder Cup with just 20 weeks to go before Europe's team is finalised.

The Greystones star's runner-up finish behind Jon Rahm in the Open de España on Sunday might have moved him to a career-best 68th in the world and to within reach of a place in Thomas Bjorn's team.

Instead of looking that far ahead, the hard-working Wicklow man is simply focussed on going one better than last year's play-off defeat to Edoardo Molinari by claiming victory in this week's Trophée Hassan II at a revamped Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

"The Ryder Cup? I don't think I have thought about it once," said Dunne who is seventh in the European Points List and 13th in the World Points List as the countdown to Paris continues.

"If I am 100pc, I know there are four places from the World Points and four from European Points and four picks.

"I don't really know how the whole thing works and what I have to do and don't have to do to make the team.

"With only four spots available from each list, I am guessing you'd have to win quite a lot to make the team, so I am just going to focus on that first.

"I think, if I go out and win one or two big tournaments along the way, then I will deserve a Ryder Cup place and if I don't, I won't.

"We will find out come September."

With three successive top-10 finishes under his belt, Dunne's game is better than ever and he knows big things are on the horizon if he continues to improve.

He certainly believes it's no coincidence that he has never been higher in the world rankings.

"Yeah, 68th is good," he said. "And my game is the best it's ever been too. So it's all trending in the right way."

If he can make the world's top 60 by the May 21 or June 11 cut-offs, he will qualify for the US Open at Shinnecock Hills.


Having played with the blinkers on since he turned professional two and a half years ago, he insists he's happy to see the improvements he's making off the course bear fruit on it.

"I am happy where my game is, I am happy with the work I am doing and I can see the signs of improvement each day, in every aspect of it," he said decisively.

"So I am just going to concentrate on that and keep trying to win whatever tournament I am in. That's it really."

As for last week's Open de España, where he had a one-stroke lead after 54 holes but closed with a 71 to Jon Rahm's 67 to finish second, he was philosophical.

"I felt I played well enough to win but things have to go your way," said Dunne, who broke through for the first time last year by holding off Rory McIlroy for the British Masters.

"You have to get the breaks and I think Jon got the breaks yesterday, not me.

"I played well, hit the ball well and hit a lot of good shots but my short game wasn't that good, the greens were a bit bumpy and I just didn't have the speed of the greens.

"I thought if I could birdie the four par-fives and play the other holes solidly, I'd get to 21-under.

"But while I birdied three of the four, I just got a couple of bad breaks and made a few bogeys where I didn't feel I had played the holes badly enough to drop shots.

"That's just golf, I guess. So we'll just move on and try to win this week instead."

Dunne has next week's Volvo China Open and the GolfSixes event with Gavin Moynihan to look forward to before the season kicks off in earnest with the BMW PGA at Wentworth.

Told that's when the Ryder Cup points on offer are increased by 50pc, he said: "Those are the tournaments to win so!"

As for Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, where he is joined in the field by Moynihan, he can't wait see the changes to the course.

"I've heard they dug up all the greens and re-did them again," he said. "It's a great course from tee to green - one of the better ones we play.

"If my ball striking is good, I always feel I have a chance and after struggling with it early in the year, I gradually got better and better when I was practicing in the US for a few weeks in January and February.

"Now I am just concentrating on keeping that going. So I am doing the right things and seeing the results transfer onto the golf course. It's quite easy to stay motivated really so onwards we go."

Irish Independent

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