As introductions to Major championship golf go, Paul Dunne could not have asked for better than have the world No 1 stroll up to the first tee and join him for a practice round.
Having raced hot-foot from representing Ireland at the European Amateur Team Championships in Slovenia, Open Championship qualifier Dunne was settling in for a round with compatriot Shane Lowry and Scotland’s reigning British Amateur champion Bradley Neil at Royal Liverpool, when Adam Scott turned the three-ball into four, to complete the shock of the new.
The 21-year-old from Greystones said: “Playing with Adam was probably the best thing that could have happened, dropped me in at the deep end. I didn’t know he was going to be there, he just walked up to the first tee. Obviously he put his name down after we had. Get down to playing golf now and get some practice in over the next few days.”
Playing an Open Championship as an amateur is demanding and daunting enough, but the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) golf scholar will tee off tomorrow in his ninth tournament in a row and is determined to follow UAB old boy Graeme McDowell’s advice to try and enjoy every minute of his Majors experience.
“Graeme told me to stay patient during the week and enjoy it. That’s what my plan was for the week anyway, just to enjoy it.
“It is a good experience. I don’t usually get that flustered, I don’t know how I will handle myself this week, but we will see come Thursday afternoon.
“Until then, I will keep going through my routines and see where it leaves me. It will stand to me, every experience is a good experience if you learn from it and you use it in the right way.
“No matter what happens, it will be a good week to look back on and learn from for the future.
“I am not here to play badly, just take it as any other week and try and shoot the lowest score I can. I’m hitting my irons well, been putting quite nicely the last few weeks. If I can keep that going and just keep the ball in play off the tee, I should be fine, but it is easier said than done.”
Dunne will also have some close-up family support at Hoylake, with father Collie acting as his caddie around Royal Liverpool this week and enjoying the thrill of it all as much as his son.
“Just like any other tournament but with a lot more people,” Dunne senior joked. “It’s actually a little bit surreal but you just have to get on with what you are doing and block the rest of it out. It’s really special.”
Collie Dunne has enjoyed some sporting highs himself having played rugby during the 1980s for UCD, Greystones and Connacht at full-back and fly-half.
“That was great but it was nothing like this. I played with Connacht for a couple of years and we beat Munster down in Thomond once, which was a good one, but this is something very, very special.
“Paul is playing very well but he has had a long summer and played a lot of golf. We’ll see how it comes out. As long as he sticks to his game plan and doesn’t get drawn in by the whole occasion, he will be all right.
“It would be a dream for him to play at the weekend. He’d be disappointed if he doesn’t make the cut. He’s got his target and he’ll go for it.”
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