Sunday 20 January 2019

Dunne faces tall order in Mexico

Paul Dunne battling to secure a place at the Masters. Photo: Getty
Paul Dunne battling to secure a place at the Masters. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Greystones' Paul Dunne will be focusing on the job at hand rather than the potential rewards when he makes his debut in the $10 million WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.

The Wicklow man (25) needs to win or finish solo second to break into the world's top 50 and secure a place in the Masters while solo fourth would be just enough to make the top 64 who qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas in three weeks' time.

With Rory McIlroy opting to rest, the British Masters champion is the lone Irishman in the field and while he has yet to finalise his schedule, this could represent his last chance to make it to Austin or Augusta National.


Down nine spots in the world this year to 86th following a share of 19th in Abu Dhabi with missed cuts in the Dubai Desert Classic and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he spent last week working on his game with US-based coach Eric Eshelman in Alabama.

"It's a beautiful course and the ball is going for miles," Dunne said of the venue.

He tees off with Japan's Satoshi Kodaira and American Brendan Steele at 7.03 Irish time knowing that his immediate future depends on putting a big result on the board or he could face five weeks off before the Spanish Open.

The 65-strong field includes 56 of the world's top 100, 45 of the top 50 with McIlroy, Jason Day, Henrik Stenson and the injured Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka the absentees.

Defending champion and world No 1 Dustin Johnson is the favourite for $1.7 million (€1.39m) top prize and at a venue 7,500ft above sea level where he averaged 285 yards from the tee with irons en route to victory last year.

Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan will be hoping to put his first euro on the board this season when he tees it up in the European Tour's Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club.

After missing his first five cuts since winning his card last November, the Dubliner (23) will be keen to stay out of the deep rough at a venue where South Africa's George Coetzee will be the favourite on his home course having won the title there in 2015.

In amateur golf, Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty and Castle's Alex Gleeson are tied 33rd, six shots off the lead after the carding five-over 77s in the opening round of the Spanish Amateur Championship at a windy La Manga.

Just two of Ireland's six contenders finished their opening rounds in the rain-delayed Spanish Ladies' Amateur Championship at Barceló Montecastillo Golf in Jerez de la Frontera.

Lisburn's Paula Grant shot a four-over 76 to trail clubhouse leader Frida Kinhult of Sweden by five shots with Lurgan's Annabel Wilson 63rd after a 79.

The top 32 after 36 holes in both Spanish events will make the matchplay stages.

Tshwane Open, live

Sky Sports, 8.30

WGC Mexico Championship,

Sky Sports, 7.0

Irish Independent

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