The 21-year old arrived on the first tee with just a minute to spare ahead of his opening round at Woburn, but regained his composure to claim a three-shot victory on 10 under 134 and now joins Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry in the field at Royal Liverpool from July 17-20.
“It gave me a bit of a fright,” admitted the Irish International who was part of the winning European collegiate team at last week’s Palmer Cup at Walton Heath and heads off to Finland next week for the European Amateur Team Championships before thinking about Hoylake.
“I misjudged the time it would take me to get from the clubhouse out to the 10th tee but fortunately, I managed to hit my opening tee shot straight down the middle.”
The result caps a remarkable few days for Dunne, who beat world amateur No 3 Robbie Shelton to help Europe win the Palmer Cup on Saturday.
“Walton Heath was very firm and linksy but Woburn was very soft, almost target golf, so it suited the game I have been playing for the last few years in college in America,” said Dunne, who had his father Collie on the bag and promises to keep him for The Open.
Dunne is the first Irish amateur to come through a strokeplay qualifier for The Open since a 19-year old Eoghan O’Connell made it to Muirfield in 1987.
“I’ve never been to an Open but I’ve watched every second on TV so it will be a fantastic learning experience,” Dunne said. “But the first order of business is to focus on the European Team Championships next week.”
He was one of nine Irishman to chase one of 12 spots on offer at four qualifying venues but the only one to succeed with Muskerry’s Niall Turner (73-72) finishing 26th, 11 shots behind him at Woburn.
Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar was 17th at Hillside, eight shots outside a four-man play-off for the three qualifying spots with Waterville’s Mark Murphy (74-76) 38th at Gailes Links in Scotland.