Paul Dunne’s breakthrough year crowned with award

Paul Dunne rounded off a stellar breakthrough year on tour last night when he was named “Professional of the Year” by the Irish Golf Writers’ Association.

Paul McBride, Mens Amateur Player of the Year and Paul Dunne, Male Professional Golfer of the Year. Pic: Robbie Reynolds

The 25-year-old from Greystones received the prestigious award from the Irish Golf Writers’ Association at the annual awards ceremony, sponsored by Allianz and held at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links. Also honoured last night were amateur award winners Leona Maguire and Paul McBride.

Dunne added his name to a winners’ roll which reads like a who’s who of Irish golf after he enjoyed a wonderful second full season on tour which saw him win the British Masters at Close House in England in October with a chip-in on the 72nd hole that was voted as the PGA European Tour’s shot of the month.

The hole out gave him a closing round of 61 for a total of 260, 20-under-par 260 as he finished three shots clear of runner-up Rory McIlroy.

The 2017 campaign saw Dunne catapulted from 275th in the Official Golf World Rankings into the top 100, where the Irishman currently occupies 76th place.

That ranking reflects top-10 finishes that as well as his British Masters win also included a runner-up performance to Italy’s Edoardo Molinari in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco, all of which gave him 16th place in the final European Tour Race to Dubai standings with prize money of €1.7 million.

He also moved onto the radar of European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn ahead of next September’s matches against the United States in Paris with the Dane selecting Dunne on his 12-man European team for next month’s EurAsia Cup contest against Asia in Malaysia.

Leona Maguire, 23, earned the IGWA’s “Women’s Amateur of the Year” title for another dominant season in which she finished top of the world rankings for a third consecutive year.

Leona Maguire who received the Womens Amateur Player of the Year Award. Pic: Robbie Reynolds

One of the highlights for the Cavan golfer was her victory at the British Ladies Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig in Wales where she beat Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3 and 2 in the final.

That success was reflected on the other side of the Atlantic, where the Duke University student dominated the US collegiate circuit once more with five victories in 2017.

The men’s amateur award went to Ireland’s sole representative on this year’s GB&I Walker Cup team, Paul McBride, of The Island Golf Club.

The Wake Forest University golfer also reached the quarter-final of the British Amateur and made the cut playing in the Porsche European Open on the European Tour.

McBride, 22, finished the year as the top-ranked Irish men’s player in the amateur world rankings at 41st and went unbeaten with 4.5 points from a possible five as Ireland retained the Home Internationals.

The IGWA’s “Distinguished Services to Golf” awards went to Gavin Caldwell, the former captain of the R&A, and Michael Moss, the retired general manager of Portstewart Golf Club which played host to the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

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