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'My game is great': Dunne lands another big payday despite second-place disappointment

The Wicklow golfer is taking the positives from his performance at the Open de Espana.

Dunne was unable to hold onto his slender lead yesterday.
Dunne was unable to hold onto his slender lead yesterday.
Image: Quality Sport Images

THE ACUTE DISAPPOINTMENT of a second-placed finish aside, Paul Dunne was able to take heart from another hugely encouraging and progressive week at the Open de Espana, the Wicklow native further underlining his capacity to mount consistent and credible title challenges.

Dunne held a one-shot lead heading into the final round in Madrid after continuing his impressive recent form, which has seen him record back-to-back top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour.

Back in Europe, the 25-year-old produced some stunning golf over the course of the week but was unfortunate to miss out on a second career title as Jon Rahm, the world number four and home favourite, stormed to victory down the final stretch.

Rahm carded a final round 67, while Dunne could only manage a 71, with the Spaniard claiming his maiden national title by two shots and his fifth of a blossoming career, including last summer’s Irish Open.

As for Dunne, it was a missed opportunity to back-up his form with the substance of victory, but he heads to Morocco for this week’s Trophee Hassan II full of confidence after a strong start to the season.

The former Blackrock College man picks up a cheque for €166,660 for his efforts in Spain (not a bad consolation prize, all things considered) and valuable world ranking and Ryder Cup points ahead of a busy three-week stretch of tournaments.

Dunne’s prize money for the year is now up to €520,000 for the season across both tours and he is now up to 68th in the world, progressing quickly towards a first top-50 placing.

“I felt like I hit the ball great,” he said yesterday. “My short game let me down a little bit. I hit a lot of chips that I thought were better than they were.

“I just kept misjudging bounces — some of them skidded, some of them bounced softly. I feel like when I played for one I got the other result. It’s a little frustrating not to get anything going, not to get any putts to go in. It’s just one of those days.

“My game is great. I hit the ball fantastic, I was hitting it long and straight. I feel good going into the next few weeks. Obviously, I’m disappointed not to win, but it is what it is.”

As it stands, Dunne is currently 35th in the Race to Dubai rankings and seventh in the European Ryder Cup places, with the top four earning an automatic pick for Thomas Bjorn’s team.

Dunne will be joined by Gavin Moynihan and Ruaidhri McGee in Morocco this week before heading to Beijing for the China Open on 26 April.

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Ryan Bailey

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