Paul Dunne will tee off this morning in his fourth Open Championship knowing there is a great performance in him, but he is determined to stay patient until it surfaces.
The 25-year-old from Greystones, who as an amateur three years ago led The Open at St Andrews after three rounds only to finish in a tie for 30th, missed the cut at Troon a year later in his debut season as a professional. Yet, he took a giant leap forwards in 2017, making 25 cuts in 29 European Tour starts, claiming a maiden victory at the British Masters and finishing 16th in the Race to Dubai standings.
Though this season has seen Dunne finish second behind Jon Rahm at the Spanish Open and claim two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, there has been frustration of late with a tie for 40th in this month’s Irish Open at Ballyliffin and last week’s missed cut on the links at Gullane in the Scottish Open.
Yet, there is optimism that his game is coming around as he gets ready to play his first major since last year’s US Open.
“I have been working on some things with my swing and I am swinging it so much better now than I was a few weeks ago,” said Dunne.
“It is close, it is just a matter of getting it to the golf course and, when I get comfortable getting it to the golf course, I think there is a great week in there. I am trying to stay patient with it and try keep working on things, because it is getting close.
Ranked 76th in the world, Dunne’s next objective is to establish himself as a regular contender, but he realises he needs to sharpen his long game if he is to make his mark in the majors.
“Yeah, look, for me to be consistently at that level, I need to drive the ball better. That’s something I always work on, but I think for me that would be the difference. If I drove the ball consistently better, then I’d have more chances to win.
“The rest of my game is usually consistently good and my good weeks, especially on the greens, are better than most people’s good weeks, so if I was more consistent driving the ball, I’d have more chances, but I know that and it’s something I’m working on.
“It’s not going to be something that can get better overnight, but I definitely think that in my good weeks I have chances to win, and the difference for me to get to that next level is probably making my average weeks a little bit better, but time will tell for that one. I’ll work on that and see what happens.”
Dunne, out at 7.30am today, is the first of a five-strong Irish contingent at Carnoustie with conditions firm and fast and very different to the soft course he enjoyed at St Andrews three years ago.
He feels scrambling is going to be a big factor this week and added: “That’s something I’m comfortable with and I feel like it’s quite sharp at the minute. I’ve been putting really nicely inside 10 feet, chipping it really well, bunker play is good.