Ireland will have one extra representative at this year's Open Championship in St. Andrew's that starts on the 16th of July. Along with former champions Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington, as well as Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell - Irish amateur Paul Dunne has qualified for his second straight Open Championship.
The 22-year-old from Greystones Golf Club was in sparkling form at Open qualifying in Woburn golf club as his nine-under-par total saw him finish first. Dunne's rounds of 70 and 65 saw him qualify with ease three shots clear of Robert Dinwiddie in second place. Dunne's play overshadowed that of professionals like two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen, Irish Open winner Robert Rock, and eight time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie.
Dunne also qualified for the Open in Hoylake last year, after claiming one of the spots at the same Woburn golf club. On that occasion, a run of birdies towards the end of his second round after a poor opening start wasn't enough to see him make the cut. Rounds of 75 and 73 meant that his total of four-over-par was two shots off the cut-mark.
Dunne will be looking to make the European Walker Cup team, before heading to the European Tour Q school in an attempt to turn professional after graduating from the University of Alabama this year.
Dunne has recorded a 74 in his one competitive round at St. Andrew's already and, as quoted in IrishGolfDesk, showed he's learned from his experience last year:
I guess I love this place. Last year was a bit more of a shock because I had no expectations. This time I knew I could shoot the scores and that put more pressure on me.
I think I will feel a little more comfortable in situations this time. I have more experience playing in front of crowds and the NCAAS was a good experience for me playing in front of the TV cameras. Hopefully it will pay off at St Andrews.
Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE