Dunne ready for his go on the Q-School rollercoaster
Paul Dunne

Paul Dunne

Open Championship hero Paul Dunne refuses to dream of what might be as he joins another six Irishmen for the first round of the gruelling European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort today.

The 22-year old Dubliner is focusing firmly in the present and he could only smile when asked if the experience of leading The Open through 54 holes helped him come through a six-man playoff for two places at his Second Stage qualifier in Tarragona last Monday afternoon.

“I don’t know,” he said with a chuckle. “It was completely different. There were about 10 people watching. I think every pressure situation you are in can help you, if you learn from it. I am sure it did. But I am sure that other pressure situations helped as well.”

Like tour winners Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Simon Thornton, young professionals Kevin Phelan and Ruaidhri McGee or fellow Final Stage rookie Brian Casey from Headfort (a brilliant joint winner of his First Stage qualifier on 24 under par), Dunne’s goal is simply to finish among the Top 25 and ties who are awarded full European Tour cards after six rounds.

He’s got such a high profile after The Open and three impressive European Tour performances since turning professional following the Walker Cup, that he’s likely to get some starts next year no matter what happens in Girona.

But he prefers not to deal in hypotheticals but to focus on the job at hand and the chance to win his card outright next Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t know if I will have any invites next year, not for definite, so I am just going to see how Q-School goes,” said Dunne, whose must first make the 72-hole cut for top 70 and ties. 

“Goal number one is to hit good shots at the right time and get my full European Tour card. After that, whatever happens, I’ll look at next year and plan whatever schedule I can.”

The Greystones favourite is joined in the field by his Walker Cup team mates Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, and former Ryder Cup players Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Swede Jarmo Sandelin and Dane Soren Hansen.

“Hopefully it’ll be a good week but if it’s not, it’s obviously not the end of the world,” Dunne said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity and hopefully I can play well, keep my composure and hit good shots at the right time, and hit the bad ones at the right time too. 

"Everyone is going to hit bad shots so it’s a case of making par when you do. Time will tell but I’ll just take the week as it comes.

“It’s obviously a great opportunity and hopefully I can make the most of it but I’m just going to try and play well and see where it leaves me.”

Dunne, Thornton, McGrane, Lawrie and Casey begin their Q-School quest at the tougher, par-72 Stadium Course with McGee and Phelan starting on the shorter, par-70 Tour Course.