Dream start for Dunne as he grabs Dunhill lead with 64 and an ace

Professional golf is meant to be difficult but it appears nobody told rookie Paul Dunne, who made it look like child's play on his debut after racking up a hole-in-one in an eight under 64 to share the first round lead in the $5m Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

That's what you do, apparently, when you are 22 and have twice qualified for The Open as an amateur before going on to co-lead the world's biggest event through 54 holes. After all that, co-leading one of the biggest events on the European Tour with Walker Cup team mate Jimmy Mullen and Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg is clearly not going to faze the Greystones man completely.

“I kind of needed it the hole in one," admitted Dunne, who holed a five iron from 205 yards at the 15th, his sixth hole of the day.

"I got off to a bit of a ropey start (bogey-birdie-par-bogey-birdie). I was hitting a lot of poor full shots. My putter was kind of saving me and I was lucky to be level par playing 15, which was my sixth, and then I make a hole-in-one.

"It was exactly as I pictured it. I tried to start it at the left edge of green and let the wind drift it and I thought I hit it close and when I saw it drop, it was great. Nice little bonus there. I played some good golf from then on in so was happy with my score."

Dunne birdied the par-five 16th to go three under, then stormed home in five under 31 with birdies at the second, third, fourth, sixth and ninth for an eight under par round and a 12 under 60 with amateur partner Keith Bowman, worth a share of second in the Pro-Am, a shot behind Moritz Lampert and Christer Lihammar (59).

“The game seems easy on days like today," Dunne said. "Kingsbarns is such a beautiful course, it's in great condition and the weather is fantastic.

There are scores out there to be had. You just have to make putts and get dialed in with your distance control and your irons. I played a lot better on the front nine than I did on the back nine, which was my front nine, a lot better striking of my irons, so I am pleased with the day's work.”

Ironically, Gary Hurley and his partner Brian O'Driscoll shot a 62 to be just two shots behind Dunne and Bowman as the West Waterford man made six birdies in a rollercoaster 73 around the Old Course.

It was a rollercoaster day too for the Irish with Peter Lawrie, who could secure his card with a Top 20 finish, firing a five under 67 around Kingsbarns to share eight place.

Perhaps the most impressive Irish performance of the day after Dunne's came from Graeme McDowell, who shot a 68 alongside AP McCoy at Carnoustie but deserved a 66 so well did he struck the ball from tee to green.

One under with six to go, he eagled the 12th, birdied the 14th to get to four over, then save a brilliant par after driving into the burn at the 17th, hitting a stunning third to four feet after a penalty drop.

Damien McGrane shot 70 at Kingsbarns, where Michael Hoey post a 71.

But it was a mixed day for Kevin Phelan at the same track as he eagled he third and birdied the fourth and sixth to go four under only to be forced to birdie the last two for a 71 after a bogey at the ninth and back to back double bogeys at the 13th and 14th.

Darren Clarke was caught out by the finish at Carnoustie as he bogeyed the 16th and 18th for a 71. But it's a score that would have pleased Shane Lowry,  Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley who shot 74 and a brace of 75s respectively.

Lowry, playing in his first event for six weeks, had three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey seven at the sixth in a poor ball-striking round as Harrington followed a birdie at the 14th with bogeys the 15th, 17th and 18th. 

Co-leader Mullen, who won four points out of four as GB&I beat their American counterparts 16½-9½ at Royal Lytham & St Annes last month, also started at Kingsbarns and the youngster took full advantage of the perfect scoring conditions to notch eight birdies and an eagle to join Dunne and Broberg – who was playing at St Andrews – on eight under par. 

Dunne and Mullen will bid to continue their dream debuts on Friday at the Home of Golf, the scene of Dunne’s dramatic bid to win The Open Championship this summer.

Over at Carnoustie, traditionally the hardest of the trio of courses, home hero Marc Warren continued his solid season to post a four under par round of 68, the same score as two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer and his Ryder Cup team-mate  McDowell.

Broberg said: “I played really well from tee to green today. I made almost every birdie putt I had today, although most of them were pretty close, so it was one of those days where you just enjoy it.

"I just love playing links golf, although I have to admit that I prefer Carnoustie and Kingsbarns because I don't know the lines around the Old Course as well as I do the others. But I have John Dempster, who worked for Oli Wilson last year when he won here, on the bag so I had a guy who knows this place as well as anyone.

"When he tells me to hit it over there then I just hit it over there so it was pretty easy today. I have to say it’s really good to have him on the bag. Then I played Carnoustie a lot when I was an amateur so I am really looking forward to that tomorrow.”

Mullen added: “I didn't quite expect to shoot 8-under my first time out, but Pablo (Larrazabal) helped me along and was such a nice guy, and the two amateurs we were playing with, Miguel and my partner, Pascal, were great as well.

"It was just great fun. I know the Old Course and Carnoustie a lot better than here Kingsbarns. I've only played here once. I have played St. Andrews lots of times and played Carnoustie five times one year in the British Amateur, so I know those well. I’m just looking forward to playing, they are three great golf courses. To start off my career at St. Andrews is a dream, really.”

Complete Round One Scores

64 J Mullen (Eng), Paul Dunne (Irl), K Broberg (Swe);

65 A Wall (Eng), R Bland (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den);

66 M Fraser (Aus);

67 F Zanotti (Par), G Mulroy (RSA), A Levy (Fra), J Morrison (Eng), M Lampert (Ger), Peter Lawrie (Irl), S Gallacher (Sco), F Aguilar (Chi);

68 Graeme McDowell (NIR), N Holman (Aus), S Hutsby (Eng), M Foster (Eng), A Otaegui (Esp), P Peterson (USA), R Jacquelin (Fra), C Stroud (USA), D Drysdale (Sco), T Olesen (Den), R Fisher (Eng), M Kaymer (Ger), F Fritsch (Ger), M Warren (Sco);

69 T Hatton (Eng), J Donaldson (Wal), M Tullo (Chi), D Van Tonder (RSA), D Fichardt (RSA), G Stal (Fra), G Storm (Eng), S Piercy (USA), R Green (Aus), A Cañizares (Esp), R Finch (Eng), B Hebert (Fra), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), P Uihlein (USA);

70 P Lawrie (Sco), S Lewton (Eng), M Carlsson (Swe), J Randhawa (Ind), Damien McGrane (Irl), J Parry (Eng), M Madsen (Den), M Manassero (Ita), S Benson (Eng), P Hanson (Swe), T Fleetwood (Eng), J Luiten (Ned), B Evans (Eng), A Quiros (Esp), M Bremner (RSA), J Carlsson (Swe), B Wiesberger (Aut), O Fisher (Eng), N Elvira (Esp), H Otto (RSA), R Wattel (Fra), N Cullen (Aus);

71 P Edberg (Swe), D Lingmerth (Swe), P Martin Benavides (Esp), Kevin Phelan (Irl), M Kieffer (Ger), L Slattery (Eng), J Barnes (Eng), G Havret (Fra), Darren Clarke (NIR), Michael Hoey (NIR), J Quesne (Fra), G Bourdy (Fra), J Lagergren (Swe), S Hansen (Den), J Ahlers (RSA), O Farr (Wal), S Dartnall (Aus), L Donald (Eng), C Wood (Eng), L Westwood (Eng), R Dinwiddie (Eng), M Lundberg (Swe), M Ilonen (Fin), T Bjørn (Den);

72 D Horsey (Eng), N Dougherty (Eng), B Koepka (USA), A Dodt (Aus), S Jamieson (Sco), C Schwartzel (RSA), M Nixon (Eng), P Larrazábal (Esp), C Bezuidenhout (RSA), D Lipsky (USA), J Walters (RSA), R Rock (Eng), T Pieters (Bel), Y Yang (Kor), J Roos (RSA), E Els (RSA), J Harvey (RSA);

73 R Pugh (Wal), B Dredge (Wal), E Espana (Fra), N Colsaerts (Bel), W Ormsby (Aus), B Grace (RSA), S Jeffress (Aus), C Doak (Sco), B An (Kor), A Chesters (Eng), K Horne (RSA), R Kakko (Fin), J Younger (Aus), J Kruger (RSA), S Cink (USA), Gary Hurley (Irl), R Karlberg (Swe);

74 J Daly (USA), J Lando Casanova (Fra), A Johnston (Eng), R Cabrera-Bello (Esp), E Compton (USA), T Pilkadaris (Aus), E Pepperell (Eng), O Wilson (Eng), A Sullivan (Eng), D Willett (Eng), N Fasth (Swe), D Papadatos (Aus), V Dubuisson (Fra), Shane Lowry (Irl), R Paratore (Ita);

75 D Howell (Eng), S Kapur (Ind), Paul McGinley (Irl), M Brown (Nzl), D Brooks (Eng), B Neil (Sco), T Van Der Walt (RSA), T Lewis (Eng), T Levet (Fra), M Ford (Eng), K Aphibarnrat (Tha), Padraig Harrington (Irl), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), R Fox (Nzl), J Higginbottom (Aus), O Schniederjans (USA);

76 L Bjerregaard (Den), S O'Hair (USA), J Harding (RSA), J Blaauw (RSA), R Lee (Can);

77 S Hend (Aus), J Singh (Ind), J Campillo (Esp), S Chawrasia (Ind), R Karlsson (Swe);

78 M Crespi (Ita), P Perez (USA);

79 C Lee (Sco);

81 J Garcia Pinto (Esp