Paul Dunne burst onto the professional scene in dramatic manner seizing a share of the lead with an eight-under- par 64 that included a hole-in-one on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The official World No. 942 ranked golfer upstaged nine Major champions including fellow Irish Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke with his remarkable effort in benign conditions at Kingsbarns.
The Greystones golfer celebrated a first ace of his new career with his 21st shot in the pro ranks at the short par three ‘over water’ 15th that Dunne was playing as his sixth hole before ending his round tied with Sweden’s Kris Broberg and England’s Jimmy Mullen who, as a Walker Cup team mate to Dunne, was also making his pro debut.
“I kind of needed the ace as I got off to a bit of a ropey start hitting a lot of poor full shots,” said Dunne.
“My putter was kind of saving me in it, to be level par playing 15, which was my sixth and it was nice to get a hole in one.
“It was exactly as I pictured it. I tried to start it at the left edge of green and let the wind drift it and I thought I hit it close and when I saw it drop, it was great.
“So it was a nice little bonus as I then played some good golf from then on in.” Indeed after being one over par after four holes, Dunne completed the next 15 holes in nine under par including being five under for his closing eight holes.
Dunne returns to the Old Course at St Andrews today and the second round of the €4.5m event clearly buoyed in burying any lingering demons of some six weeks ago when he shared the lead with a round to play in golf’s oldest major.
“Just looking at the course this week, it looks a lot different without all the massive stands from The Open but then it brings back recent memories, and hopefully I can make some more like I did the first three days in The Open,” he said.
Peter Lawrie was also at Kingsbarns and making the most of a 15th invitation this season recording six birdies in a five under par 67.
And Lawrie, lying at 114th on the Race to Dubai and four places shy of retaining full Tour membership, was delighted to be reunited with his tools of trade.
“It was good to have my own clubs back after the rush of getting a complete new set made-up for me last week in Germany,” he said.
“But it was just a great day for scoring and a round I can build onto St Andrews and then Carnoustie on Saturday.”
Graeme McDowell eagled the par five 12th at Carnoustie holing a six-footer but capped his round saving par at the par four 17th when he put his 3-wood tee shot into the infamous Barry Burn that winds its way about the course but managed to get up-and-down for par from around 200-yards out.
“The course played quite difficult early on given it was cold and a little breezy but coming down the last few holes, it was quite nice and I’m really happy the way I played,” he said.
“But then I had some big par saves and none better than one on 17 so all in all four under is a good score.”
Gary Hurley signed for a one over par 71 on his debut in the pro ranks while Shane Lowry was far from displeased with a two over par 74 at Carnoustie.
“It is my first competitive round in over a month and that showed as I was in six fairway bunkers today so I know I will be a lot stronger for having this round under my belt,” said Lowry.