Paul Dunne hit two glorious shots to the last to finally shake off the frustratingly adhesive American Robbie Ziegler and move into the last 32 of the US Amateur Championship in Chicago last night.
The Greystones star, 22, looked by far the more accomplished player on a windy afternoon at Olympia Fields’ long and demanding North Course. But with his putter not fully co-operative, he had to work hard to move into today’s second round with a two-up victory over the gutsy Ziegler thanks to a six iron to eight feet at the last.
“I played well at the start and had good chances at four, five and six from 10 feet and missed them all, which was disappointing,” said Dunne, who had his regular foursomes partner Gary Hurley as caddie.
“But I got two up through 12 and played some nice golf in the middle to go two under and then gave them away with two soft bogeys.
“So it was nice to hit two great shots to the last to seal the win. I was thinking if I made four it would be game set and match and luckily I hit two great shots and closed it out.”
Having chiselled out a two-up lead with six holes to play, the hero of The Open at St Andrews just a month ago, was hauled back to all square after 15 holes and had to hole a five footer at the 16th for a winning par and a three footer at the 17th to stay ahead of the resilient Oregon native before shutting the door on the tough 18th.
Ziegler, a thin, 25-year old assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, made up for his lack of length with a deadly, cack-handed chipping game and some clutch putting down the stretch.
Outdriven consistently by at least 30 yards, "Ziggy" had more realistic birdie chances on the first three holes but failed to convert. And yet he saved par when he was in trouble to be level through eight holes as Dunne missed a trio of good chances himself.
The former University of Alabama-Birmingham star hit the first eight greens in regulation and might have trailed had Ziegler not missed outside chances from around 15 feet at the first, second and third with his long putter clutched to his chest.
Dunne played well but even with an ace green reader like Gary Hurley on his bag, he misread or mis-hit several good chances in the middle of the front nine..
The American eventually fell behind on the tough ninth, where his tee shot caught a tree 80 yards from the tee and he three-putted for a double bogey six to Dunne’s five after the Wicklow man had been forced to lay up on a hole that was playing into a very stiff wind.
The Irish star doubled his lead by holing a 45-foot, left to right birdie putt across the green at the iconic, short-par four 12th. But he bogeyed the 13th and 15th to see his lead erased.
He won the 16th in par, however, and after Ziegler had kept the match alive by draining a 15 footer to avoid a three-putt bogey at the 17th, he won the last with a par four as he opponent drove into sand.
With Dunne in perfect position in the fairway, Ziegler erred when he elected to hit a hybrid from the sand and caught the lip, barely clambering out.
He was still away and hit found sand in three and after Dunne rifled a superb six iron to eight feet, he failed to hole out for par and conceded.
The Wicklow man will face Caleb Proveaux from South Carolina in the second round and he was pleased to go through.
"Today I started off playing nicely. I hit, I think, the first eight greens in regulation, had some good chances to get up in my match," he said. "Didn't quite take them. When he made a mistake on 9 I got 1-up, and a nice birdie on 12 got me to 2-up.
"Then coming in I made a couple of soft bogeys really on 13 from the middle of the fairway, and then 15, which is really basic par-3, just misjudged the wind a bit. Yeah, but it was nice to play the last three holes well and close the match out."
Dunne didn't find his opponent frustrating to play as he clearly felt he was always going to have the upper hand in terms of length and was just biding his time.
"Not really. You knew it was going to be tough, but the golf course is tough anyway. And kind of with the wind the way it was today, it's tough to make birdie, so we kind of found ourselves in a bit of a par battle.
"I kind of gave myself some good chances on 4, 5 and 6 from short rage, and I hit three good putts, I just misread the three of them. Nothing I could do about that. I was happy with the shots I hit.
"But I knew that if I just stuck to playing the way I was that eventually I was going to win a few holes. He was doing a good job of saving pars in the first few holes, and all credit to him. His chipping and putting was good. Yeah, but I was happy that I could close it out down the last three."
Olympia Fields' North Course was playing every inch of its length due to the sodden fairways though Dunne was grateful they moved up a few tees.
In short, he played the course more than the man and will do so again.
Playing Paul Dunne. Dude shoulda won the Open. This will be interesting.— Robbie Ziegler (@robbiezig) August 19, 2015
"I think the course is too hard to deviate from that, really. It doesn't matter how many up or down you are, you've got to hit fairways. If you miss fairways you're going to be on the back foot from the start. Apart from a couple, I was hitting the ball long and straight, which is a real advantage around here.
"I had the advantage of length on him. Just around the middle of the round I had a few shots I could get aggressive with, but the greens are so soft after the rain that I just kept over-spinning my wedge shots. Even though I kept trying to take spin off, they just kept spinning.
Admitting he was now fully recovered from his bout of food poisoning, Dunne is hoping Hurley will tote the bag again today.
"I wasn't feeling the best yesterday, but today I was fine," he said. I got a good night's sleep last night, got some food into me, and I was fine."
On planning ahead, he said: "You don't know how far you're going to get. Obviously you hope and plan to get as far as you can, but you could run into a steam train, someone birdies every hole tomorrow, or you could have the easiest match of your life. It's impossible to tell. It's just important to take your rest when you can get it and not do anything stupid and tire yourself out."
Hurley's calmly presence on the bag was key, especially when the match went back to all square.
"It's good to have Gary on the bag. We're great friends. Someone that knows as much as he does about the game, he keeps my mind from wandering off the topics that it should be on. He keeps me focussed.
"Especially when I lost a couple holes there towards the end, go back to all square, it's easy for your mind to wander and get a bit flustered and worry about the momentum that you've lost. But yeah, he just kept kind of putting me in the right direction, telling me to just focus on the shot you're hitting, just commit to it and that's all you can do.
"So it's good to have someone to talk to like that that has as much experience as he has. I'd have rather him not be caddying. I'd rather him have got through this morning, but yeah, unfortunately they (Hurley and Cormac Sharvin) didn't have the finish they needed, so just missed out. But it's good to have a friend on the bag.
"Hopefully we can play foursomes again in a couple weeks at the Walker Cup. He definitely has seen my game over the last couple years more than anyone else on the Irish team. We get on well, and it's just great to have someone like that taking the bag."
While Dunne was progressing, leading qualifier Brett Coletta of Australia was eliminated and three United States Walker Cup team players advanced to the second round.
Coletta was defeated by Kyle Mueller, 19, in the first round of match play as US Walker Cup team members Bryson DeChambeau, Maverick McNealy and Hunter Stewart all progressed.
“When you're playing Lee McCoy, you’ve just got to kind of go for it, and you can't play cautious and you can't just try to par your way around here,” said Stewart, who beat another of the five US Walker Cup team members named so far.
“He was under par today. I played a really nice round, just kind of had some good stuff going there in the middle and was able to carry the momentum over.”
DeChambeau, the 2015 NCAA Division I individual champion, easily defeated Robby Salomon, 8 and 7, and McNealy, the 2015 Jack Nicklaus and Haskins Award winner, beat Austin Connelly, 1 up.
All three Americans were full of praise for Dunne's achievement at St Andrews with McNealy commenting: "Actually after winning the Haskins Award he came up to me and congratulated me. He was such a nice guy, and I've been following him ever since, and I was so happy to see him playing well at The Open.
"You know, what a great guy, what a great ambassador for the amateur game, and to be able to do that on the biggest stage in golf was really cool to watch. Like I said, I was very happy for him."
The fifth Walker Cup Team member from the USA, Beau Hossler, was eliminated by Ryan Ruffels, of Australia, 5 and 4.
Other winners included University of Illinois teammates Thomas Detry and Alex Burge.
Eighteen-year-old Cameron Young, of Scarborough, N.Y., who lost in the quarterfinals in 2014 to eventual champion Gunn Yung, turned the tables in 2015 with a 3 and 2 win over Yang.
Winning birdies on the 11th and 12th holes boosted Young to a 3-up lead that Yang could not overcome. Young, 18, became the youngest winner of the prestigious Ike Tournament in New York with a final-round 66 earlier this summer.
“Last year was kind of a frustrating day,” said Young, who is an incoming freshman at Wake Forest University. “It was a match I felt like I could have won. It was good for me to have another chance to beat him, and he's obviously a great player, so it was a lot of fun for me to have that opportunity.”
“I just tried to stay calm and not think about the score but when you get 3 down you think about the score,” said Yang, of the Republic of Korea. “I did my best but… it is really, really disappointing.”
The 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play (18 holes on each of Olympia Fields’ North and South Courses), followed by six rounds of match play (all on the North Course), with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Results from Wednesday’s first round of match play at the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at 7,234 yard, par 36-34-70 North Course (NC) at Olympia Fields Country Club.Round of 64
- Kyle Mueller, Watkinsville, Ga. (143) def. Brett Coletta, Australia (133), 1 up
- Alex Burge, Bloomington, Ill. (141) def. Sam Stevens, Wichita, Kan. (141), 5 and 4
- Thomas Detry, Belgium (140) def. Matt Oshrine, Baltimore, Md. (142), 2 up
- Kenta Konishi, Japan (140) def. Cole Hammer, Houston, Texas (142), 4 and 3
- Ryan Ruffels, Australia (138) def. Beau Hossler, Mission Viejo, Calif. (143), 5 and 4
- Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. (142) def. Chase Koepka, West Palm Beach, Fla. (140), 1 up
- Brad Nurski, St. Joseph, Mo. (143) def. Josh Munn, New Zealand (138), 8 and 7
- Matthew Perrine, Austin, Texas (142) def. Taylor Hancock, Clearwater, Fla. (140), 1 up
- Hunter Stewart, Lexington, Ky. (143) def. Lee McCoy, Athens, Ga. (136), 3 and 2
- Will Zalatoris, Plano, Texas (141) def. Zachary Olsen, Cordova, Tenn. (142), 5 and 4
- Sepp Straka, Valdosta, Ga. (138) def. Garrett Rank, Canada (142), 3 and 2
- Derek Bard, New Hartford, N.Y. (142) def. Davis Riley, Hattiesburg, Miss. (140), 4 and 3
- Jon Rahm, Spain (143) def. George Cunningham, Tucson, Ariz. (137), 21 holes
- Cameron Young, Scarborough, N.Y. (141) def. Gunn Yang, Republic of Korea (142), 3 and 2
- Sam Horsfield, England (142) def. Jake Staiano, Cherry Hills Village, Colo. (138), 6 and 5
- Daniel Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio (142) def. Corey Pereira, Cameron Park, Calif. (140), 2 and 1
- David Oraee, Greeley, Colo. (134) def. Johnny De Los Reyes, Antioch, Calif. (143), 2 up
- David Cooke, Bolingbrook, Ill. (141) def. Hank Lebioda, Winter Springs, Fla. (141), 3 and 2
- Caleb Proveaux, Lexington, S.C. (140) def. Roman Robledo, Harlingen, Texas (142), 5 and 4
- Paul Dunne, Republic of Ireland (140) def. Robbie Ziegler, Madison, Wis. (142), 2 up
- Maverick Antcliff, Augusta, Ga. (137) def. Adrian Meronk, Poland (143), 1 up
- Maverick McNealy, Portola Valley, Calif. (142) def. Austin Connelly, Canada (140), 1 up
- Matt NeSmith, North Augusta, S.C. (138) def. Billy Kennerly, Alpharetta, Ga. (143), 1 up
- Bryson DeChambeau, Clovis, Calif. (140) def. Robby Salomon, Monterey, Calif. (142), 8 and 6
- Jake Knapp, Costa Mesa, Calif. (135) def. Noah Goodwin, Corinth, Texas (143), 21 holes
- Chelso Barrett, Surry, N.H. (141) def. Nathan Yankovich, Blacklick, Ohio (141), 5 and 4
- Denny McCarthy, Rockville, Md. (142) def. Jacob Hicks, Mebane, N.C. (140), 4 and 3
- Austin James, Canada (140) def. Miller Capps, Denver, N.C. (142), 4 and 3
- Robby Shelton, Wilmer, Ala. (137) def. Aaron Whalen, Ephrata, Wash. (143), 5 and 3
- Will Grimmer, Cincinnati, Ohio (141) def. Broc Johnson, Auburn, Wash. (142), 3 and 2
- Adam Ball, Glen Allen, Va. (138) def. Reed Hrynewich, Muskegon, Mich. (142), 3 and 2
- Sean Crocker, Westlake Village, Calif. (140) def. Romain Langasque, France (142), 4 and 2
Pairings for Thursday’s Second Round
Round of 32
- 7 a.m. - Kyle Mueller, Watkinsville, Ga. (143) vs. Alex Burge, Bloomington, Ill. (141)
- 7:10 a.m. - Thomas Detry, Belgium (140) vs. Kenta Konishi, Japan (140)
- 7:20 a.m. - Ryan Ruffels, Australia (138) vs. Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. (142)
- 7:30 a.m. - Brad Nurski, St. Joseph, Mo. (143) vs. Matthew Perrine, Austin, Texas (142)
- 7:40 a.m. - Hunter Stewart, Lexington, Ky. (143) vs. Will Zalatoris, Plano, Texas (141)
- 7:50 a.m. - Sepp Straka, Valdosta, Ga. (138) vs. Derek Bard, New Hartford, N.Y. (142)
- 8 a.m. - Jon Rahm, Spain (143) vs. Cameron Young, Scarborough, N.Y. (141)
- 8:10 a.m. - Sam Horsfield, England (142) vs. Daniel Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio (142)
- (Lower Bracket)
- 8:20 a.m. - David Oraee, Greeley, Colo. (134) vs. David Cooke, Bolingbrook, Ill. (141)
- 8:30 a.m. - Caleb Proveaux, Lexington, S.C. (140) vs. Paul Dunne, Republic of Ireland (140)
- 8:40 a.m. - Maverick Antcliff, Augusta, Ga. (137) vs. Maverick McNealy, Portola Valley, Calif. (142)
- 8:50 a.m. - Matt NeSmith, North Augusta, S.C. (138) def. Bryson DeChambeau, Clovis, Calif. (140)
- 9 a.m. - Jake Knapp, Costa Mesa, Calif. (135) vs. Chelso Barrett, Surry, N.H. (141)
- 9:10 a.m. - Denny McCarthy, Rockville, Md. (142) vs. Austin James, Canada (140)
- 9:20 a.m. - Robby Shelton, Wilmer, Ala. (137) vs. Will Grimmer, Cincinnati, Ohio (141)
- 9:30 a.m. - Adam Ball, Glen Allen, Va. (138) vs. Sean Crocker, Westlake Village, Calif. (140)