Supreme scrambling keeps wayward Paul Dunne on course

Paul’s Dunne’s round started yesterday afternoon with a tee shot that veered to the right of the fairway and he wrapped his 18 up by scrambling for par from the rough stuff.

How to explain, then, the fact that he signed for a bogey-free, five-under par 67 on the opening day of this Irish Open that left him sitting alongside Graeme McDowell and Gavin Moynihan as the leading Irishman?

“Yeah, I just didn’t drive the ball well. I felt like I was struggling all day. I kinda was leaving the club behind me a bit and losing everything to the right. I was happy enough to get off the first tee without hitting it into the bushes down the right.

“I kinda knew going out that it was going to be a day like that but there is plenty of birdies out there when you do get it in play so the most important thing to do was to not get too frustrated because it is easy to get on the bogey train when you do.

“The rough out here is not terrible. It’s not easy but the course is short enough for you to get it somewhere around the greens if you do get in it so that helped me today.

“When I did hit it in the rough I did give myself a decent chance to save par and I managed to do it.”

The three birdies carded from the seventh to the ninth did most to lower his scoreboard with an eagle putt for the first, an approach that left him with a gimme on eight and then a hack from the rough that skirted to a puttable 20 feet.

That last one was probably more representative of his day.

Dunne would go through the entire back nine without finding a single fairway but he looked in serious trouble on 13 when just spotting the ball was a bonus so the manner in which he extricated himself for a fifth and final birdie was supreme.

One observer suggested it wouldn’t be bettered this year on the European Tour. “That was the best shot I hit,” said the 24-year-old from Greystones. “There was a fern behind it so I had to start my backswing halfway back already because if I started behind the ball I would have clipped the tree on the way back. A nice shot with the six iron.

“It was the one really pure shot I hit today. Nice to pick up a birdie there because you really should be birdieing a minimum of one out of 13 and 14.”

A scramble it may have been but it made for a second significant round in a row for him after the closing 65 that secured a cheque of €100,000 at the French Open last Sunday. A good start so, regardless of how it was crafted.

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