On the march

Paul Dunne's stunning 63 lifts him into contention in South Africa

Great shooting from the Greystones man.

Golf - Walker Cup - Day One - Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club It was a blemish free round from Dunne. Peter Byrne Peter Byrne

AFTER WITHDRAWING FROM the opening event of the year through illness, it appears Paul Dunne is making up for lost time as he surged up the leaderboard at the Joburg Open.

The 23-year-old rookie carded a flawless eight under par second round of 63 to move into contention at the European Tour’s second tournament of 2016.

Dunne missed last week’s South Africa Open with a viral infection but has shown no ill-effects as he hit his straps with eight birdies, four before the turn and four after, on Friday.

The Greystones man is in a tie for seventh, although he remains five shots off the lead which is held by Ross McGowan.

The Englishman went one better than Dunne to shoot a 62 on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course.

Kevin Phelan was unable to build on his encouraging start to the week as he shot a level-par round of 72 this morning. The Waterford man is well placed, however, on three-under par.

But Ruaidhri McGee’s interest in the event is over as he followed up yesterday’s 71 with a 76 to miss the cut by six shots.

The event is part of The Open qualifying series with three players, who are not already exempt and finish in the top 10 this week, securing a place at Royal Troon in July.

Meanwhile, Europe took charge of the EurAsia Cup by storming into a 4.5 to 1.5 lead over Asia at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Malaysia.

The inaugural tournament at the same venue ended in a 10-10 tie and European captain Darren Clarke said the second edition was “too close to call” with hot and humid conditions favouring the hosts.

Europe looked very much at home on day one of the competition, though, as Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger beat Anirban Lahiri and Wang Jeung-hun 4 and 3 in the first of six fourballs on Friday.

Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg then sealed an emphatic 6 and 4 victory over Prayad Marksaeng and K.T Kim in match four to double Europe’s advantage.

An Byeong-hun and Thongchai Jaidee pulled off a terrific fightback to reduce the deficit to 2-1 by getting the better of Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick 3 and 1.

But Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan were 2 and 1 winners over Wu Ashun and Shingo Katayama to restore Europe’s two-point cushion.

screenshot.1452857774.6268 Andy Sullivan and Shane Lowry. Andy Sullivan / Twitter Andy Sullivan / Twitter / Twitter

Home duo Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung had to settle for half a point against Soren Kjeldsen and Victor Dubuisson, who was troubled by a knee injury on the back nine.

Lee Westwood and Chris Wood then gave Europe further breathing space heading into the weekend courtesy of 2 and 1 triumph over Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia in the final match.

Clarke, who will captain Europe in the Ryder Cup later this year, said: “It’s a wonderful start for Europe. There were a lot of matches there where it could have swung either way on the back nine.”

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