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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 14 October, 2019
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It's another big week for Paul Dunne at St Andrews as he makes his professional debut

There are 11 Irishmen in the field at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships this week.

Dunne is still riding the crest of a wave from his Open performance.
Dunne is still riding the crest of a wave from his Open performance.
Image: Peter Byrne

IT’S BEEN QUITE a year for Paul Dunne but the world of professional golf now awaits.

The 22-year-old from Greystones returns the scene of his dazzling Open performance this week for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as the next chapter of his burgeoning career begins.

After helping Great Britain and Ireland to Walker Cup victory on his amateur swansong, Dunne’s attention now turns to earning a tour card for next year and working his way up the ladder.

His quest to do so began in encouraging fashion in Austria last week and he’ll head to Spain in November for the second round of qualifying infused with the confidence he can be one of the 25 players to earn a place on the European Tour for 2016.

Another positive week on the Scottish links would certainly provide the perfect platform for the real business which lies around the corner.

Having featured at two Opens, Dunne is no stranger to the professional circuit and an invitation to the Dunhill Links, and the British Masters, gives him the chance to earn his first pay cheque as a professional golfer.

“I’m grateful to the European Tour because they have been really generous,” he told the Scotsman yesterday at a press conference. “It’s a great opportunity for me and hopefully I can make the most of it over the next three weeks.”

Dunne became just the second amateur to hold a 54-hole lead in a major championship in the last 45 years and the first to accomplish it at the Open since Bobby Jones in 1927.

A six-over par 78 on the final day saw him finish in a tie for 30th at St Andrews but his performance over the course of the week earned the Greystones golfer many plaudits.

It was a performance which announced him to the golfing world and Dunne continues to ride the crest of the wave.

Golf - The Open Championship 2015 - Day Four - St Andrews Dunne is back at St Andrews this week. Source: Owen Humphreys

“I look back in a lot of different ways,” he said of that week in July.

“There’s obviously some things I could improve going forward – how I handled myself in the last round and the shots I hit.

“But it’s important not just to look back on the negative things as there were also things I can be proud of. I played a lot of great golf that week and also prepared really well for the tournament.”

The Alfred Dunhill Links is one of the most prestigious and lucrative events on the European Tour calendar and this week’s field reflects that. The tournament is played over three courses - Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the ‘home of golf’ itself.

While Dunne will look to continue his fine form, Shane Lowry returns to the European Tour for the first time since his superlative win the World Golf Championships in August.

Lowry took time out of the game but is relishing the prospect of playing competitively again.

“I’ve been able to take a few weeks off and I’ve enjoyed my win, and then the last few weeks I decided to get back and reassess and try to set some goals going forward,” he said.

“When something like that happens, it’s tough to get my head around. It would be easy for me to sit back the rest of the year, say I’ve won a massive tournament and sit back at Christmas and be happy with that.

“I’m kind of looking forward and looking to do a few more things in the next few weeks and I’m hoping to see another win hopefully and hoping to contend a few tournaments and finish at the top.”

Pádraig Harrington – a two-time winner of the event – and Graeme McDowell are also looking to round of their respective seasons on a high.

Dunne begins his tournament at St Andrews on Thursday at 11.12 am alongside Indian Jyoti Randhawa.

If he can replicate what he did on these links again, then Paul Dunne will have further demonstrated his ability to compete with the very best.

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Ryan Bailey

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