Paul Dunne looks on bright side after testing PGA Tour debut

Greystones’ Paul Dunne enjoyed his USPGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open in California with the weekend weather conditions making him feel right at home.

Dunne finished on Monday at level par in a tie for 13th with Offaly’s Shane Lowry and American Hudson Swafford.

The 23-year-old began Sunday’s final round at five-under, four shots behind leaders Scott Brown and KJ Choi.

His title hopes evaporated after three opening bogeys and he finished Sunday at six over through 16 holes when rules officials suspended play due to wind and rain.

Coming back Monday morning in windy conditions, Dunne finished with a par and birdie on 17 and 18 to wrap his maiden event.

The 2015 Open Championship sensation took a light-hearted lesson from the week. “Appreciate the sunshine,” he smiled.

“Nobody has a whole lot of fun playing in this, it’s just about finding your way and trying to get a score together. Obviously the people who shoot a good score will move up the leaderboard.”

Did he feel any nerves? “No, not really,” Dunne said. “It’s just another event for me. I don’t look too much into how big the event is or where I’m playing. I just try to play the golf course that’s in front of me.”

So what are his overall expectations as he tees up in future US events? “I won’t think that I have to win or top 10,” Dunne said. “I’ll just play and see where it leaves me.”

Sunday’s storm hit Torrey Pines’ cliffs with 40mph winds, dense fog, and pelting rain. “I’ve played in worse conditions in Ireland but not on a course like this,” Dunne said. “With the thick rough, it’s much more difficult. The courses at home are more linksy and you can roll the ball, here when you try to hit a links shot it goes three yards.”

Dunne got visibly frustrated throughout Sunday and on the 7th he grabbed his putter head and repeatedly flipped the grip-end into his back. On 11, he slammed his wedge into the back of his bag. Nonetheless it was a week to remember for Dunne, even with the standstill southern California traffic. “I’d been leaving (the course) at 5pm everyday and that traffic is bad so it’s been like 6pm by the time I get to where I’m staying (just a few miles from Torrey Pines),” Dunne said.

“And from there I’ve just been going to meals with guys, but not much else this week. My phone was going nuts every time after each round.

“It’s great, it’s nice to get that connection (from home) and to hear from everyone because it makes me feel like I’m not too far away. It’s been hard to chat with my family with the eight-hour time difference. I don’t speak to them in the morning before I start my round and by the time I finish, it’s pretty late. (Sunday) I got off to a rough start and I put myself in some bad spots off the tee again,” Dunne said.

“The last few holes, I was happy with the way I scrambled around. I saved some good pars.”

Twitter @JohnstonGarrett


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