Paul Dunne’s hard work pays off in Girona

Open Championship hero Paul Dunne celebrated one of his best days on the golf course yesterday when he emerged from the marathon Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona with a European Tour card for 2016.
Paul Dunne’s hard work pays off in Girona

The 22-year-old Wicklow man was the sole Irishman to make it through as the remaining three who made Tuesday’s cut fell by the wayside on a sweltering day in north east Spain.

Dunne kept his cool yet again — something he’s done throughout the week and indeed in the previous two rounds of qualifying he’s come through. Upwards on 1,000 players entered this year, all vieing for the lucrative cards that offer playing rights on the Race to Dubai next year.

But Dunne and 26 others stayed the course.

“It feels good, the last couple of days were a struggle and I’d a lot of stress on my shoulders because I didn’t play too well. But I’m delighted to get through it.

“I finished on 10-under for every stage, that’s quite consistent for all three qualifying rounds, so I’m just thrilled, it hasn’t really sank in,” he gushed.

Securing his card is something Dunne targeted all year and is the culmination of months of hard work.

“It’s great, it’s something that I’ve been aiming for since I started the year back in February in college.

“My number one goal was to get through this. It’s a great step for me. Turning pro straight away after the Open allowed me skip all the feeder tours and mini tours, so to go straight to the main tour is something I’ve always dreamt of doing.”

Yesterday, Dunne finished tied for 13th on 10-under after a solid round of 72. His birdie on the second seemed to settle him but a double-bogey on the fifth undid that.

He would record three more birdies on seven, eight and 15, the latter being the moment when he could finally relax.

“I was just trying to shoot under par and I got off to a nice start with a birdie on two.

“I’d a good chance on the third but missed and then had a bad tee shot on five followed by a bad chip and suddenly it was a double bogey.

“I made a nice birdie on eight and the putt on nine was a big one because it calmed me down, and the one on 15 too. It meant I could play steady coming in.”

His delight was in stark contrast to the remaining Irish trio of Damien McGrane, Kevin Phelan and Simon Thornton, all of whom failed to break inside the top 25 and ties who secured cards.

McGrane was well placed on eight-under starting out yesterday but a 78 put paid to his hopes. It was his worst round of the week by a distance and he slipped 36 places to tied 54th.

It was no better for Thornton and Phelan, though they both carded solid rounds of 71 and 72, respectively. Those scores left them tied 60th and 67th, six and seven shots outside the cut.

In the tournament itself, there was a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard but South Africam Ulrich Van Den Berg was declared the winner on count back.

He and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui both shot 68 yesterday. Daniel Im finished third.

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