Eight years ago, a then 18-year-old McIlroy stood at the back of 18th green on the Old Course watching Scotland’s Paul Lawrie putt for birdie on the final day of the Dunhill-sponsored event.
“If Lawrie misses this putt that’s my Tour card,” said McIlroy at the time.
Lawrie missed the putt and McIlroy’s third place finish, in his second tournament as a pro, was enough to earn his European Tour card.
Dunne joined the play-for-pay ranks 21 days ago but will need to shake off any St Andrews demons from July.
The 22-year-old Greystones golfer shared the third round lead in golf’s oldest major, having broken an 18-year old record for the lowest score for an amateur over the first 54-holes of an Open Championship.
Unfortunately, Dunne’s dream evaporated within two holes on day four and while he enjoyed a great ovation coming up the last, his final round 78 also saw him let slip any chance of matching McIlroy’s effort of 2007 when he finished the ‘Low Amateur’ to Open champion Pádraig Harrington.
“I have great memories and some mixed memories with a lot of disappointment the last day but it’s important not to look back on the negative points,” said Dunne.
“There’s things in coming back here to St Andrews I can look on and I can be proud of and try to implement them in weeks going forward, and in looking back on those things I wasn’t happy with, I can try and change.
“But then looking ahead to this week it’s achievable, looking at what Rory did here at this event eight years ago.
“I can play well enough to contend this week, I have no doubt about that, but I can’t say I will or I won’t.
“I am sure many other players have aspirations to do what Rory did. He’s definitely a role model for everyone in Irish golf. But for me, I’m just going to take this week as it comes.”
Dunne’s quest for a first pay cheque commences today at Kingsbarns while he will compete at St Andrews tomorrow. His amateur partner 16-year old Scottish golfer Keith Bowman, was a 10-shot winner of this year’s St Andrews Junior Association Stroke-Play Championship.
Joining Dunne in making his pro debut on the main tour is Gary Hurley, who will partner rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports’ coverage of The Open Championship will commence from next year after the BBC pulled the plug a year early on its contract to screen the event.
The St Andrews-based R & A indicated it agreed to the BBC’s request after “significant deliberation” and would not receive any additional revenue as a result of the new arrangement. The BBC will broadcast prime-time highlights and will continue its live coverage on radio and online.
Gary Hurley (St. Andrews) 9.33am; Darren Clarke (Carnoustie) 9.22am; Shane Lowry (Carnoustie) 11.12am; Padraig Harrington (Carnoustie) 11.12am; Graeme McDowell (Carnoustie) 11.23am; Paul McGinley (Carnoustie) 10.50am; Peter Lawrie (Kingsbarns) 9am; Damien McGrane(Kingsbarns) 9.11am; Michael Hoey (Kingbarns) 10.39am; Kevin Phelan (Kingsbarns) 11.23am.