'That's really weird' - Paul Dunne on being ahead of Tiger Woods in the world rankings
Open hero Paul Dunne is determined to take advantage of an “amazing opportunity” as he continues to chase the American dream in Phoenix this week.
The 23-year old from Greystones. who finished a brilliant tied 13th on his PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open on Monday, tees it up in the $6.5 million Waste Management Phoenix Open knowing a win or a second place finish would open the doors to a US career.
A cool $126,000 richer following a wind-blown week at Torrey Pines, Dunne needs another 303 FedEx Cup points to earn Special Temporary Membership of the PGA Tour and unlimited invitations for the rest of the season.
A win would be the dream scenario but he would have enough with a second place finish this week or two big results, if he were also to play well on an invitation in next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am next week.
After landing a last gasp invitation for what is the world’s biggest golfing party at TPC Scottsdale in Phoenix — crowds regularly top 500,000 for the week — Dunne is simply happy to build on the confidence he got by leading The Open for 54 holes last summer.
“The Open gave me a lot of belief in my game that I could do well against the best players in the world, so I feel like I’m a better player now than I was at the Open last year, so that gives me confidence,” he said.
“I feel like I’m a better putter now than I was back then, I feel like my ball flight is more consistent and I handle myself a little bit better.”
Now ranked ahead of Tiger Woods at 425th in the world, the former Walker Cup star is joined in Phoenix by Clara’s Shane Lowry and three-time Major winner Pádraig Harrington.
“That’s really weird,” Dunne said of his ranking earlier this week. “I said that to mum yesterday and she said ‘yeah, but he hasn’t been playing’ and I said ‘nobody needs to know that’.”
Expectations for Dunne are now sky after he followed his Open performance with a Walker Cup win, a successful foray to Q-School and a lightning start in the professional ranks.
“Other people’s expectations don’t influence you,” told RTE this week. “I just try to handle my expectations for myself and try and handle myself well and just play as good golf as I can.
“At the end of the day, you don’t live or die whether you shoot 80 or 60.”