Paul Dunne was disappointed not to shoot in the 60s on the Old Course but pleased to be just a shot behind Walker Cup team mate Jimmy Mullen and co-leader Anthony Wall at halfway in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Home of Golf.
After beginning his professional career with an eight under 64 at Kingsbarns that included a hole in one, the 22-year old Greystones native post a 70 at St Andrews to share third place on 10 under par with Ryder Cup herp Jamie Donaldson (65), American visitor Chris Stroud and struggling Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.
“I would have liked to have broken 70 and made that putt on the last,” said Dunne, who almost holed a putt from between 80 and 90 yards for eagle at the fifth, shaving the edge before tapping in for birdie. “But I was happy. I didn’t play well at the start but I held it together and I was doing well to be two under through 10 really without hitting too many good shots.
“I played well from there in but didn’t take any of the chances i gave myself. Two under is a decent score, I would have liked to go a few lower, but I am in a decent position going into the weekend.”
Mullen continued his incredible professional debut awith a three under par 69 at St Andrews leaving him tied with Wall on 11 under at the tournament’s hallway stage.
Having opened the week with a 64 at Kingsbarns, Mullen will now head to Carnoustie on Saturday before returning to the Old Course on Sunday as he seeks to complete a dream first appearance as a professional with a maiden European Tour win.
The Walker Cup star, who won all four of his matches during Great Britain and Ireland’s win against the United States last month, bogeyed the fourth at the Old Course but bounced back with a gain at the fifth and further birdies on the seventh and ninth holes got him to the turn in 34 and with a one shot lead at ten under.
He then birdied the 12th, gave the shot back on the next, but gained another stroke on the 14th before parring his way home to ensure he would share the lead after both of his first two days in the paid ranks.
A run of four birdies on the way in catapulted Wall into contention after he had made a poor start at St Andrews.
The 40 year old, who finished in a tie for 12th in The Open at St Andrews in July, started on the tenth and turned in 37 after three bogeys and two birdies but he made a gain on the first and then had a run of four birdies from the fourth to get to the top of the pile.
Dunne made three birdies and a bogey in his first 10 holes before finishing with a run of eight consecutive pars and having led the Open as an amateur just three months ago, he’s happy to wait and see how he handles Carnoustie today before wondering what he might need to do on Sunday to win his tour card in his very first start.
A cheque for €250,000 would probably do it but that would require finishing solo third at worst and he may well feel he can do a Shane Lowry win and take care of his card until the end of 2017.
“It’s a lot different playing here this week without all the big stands at The Open,” Dunne said. "Visually it's different and harder to pick targets off the tee. We had a different wind than we played all week in The Open, as well.
"The course played a lot differently but it's great. Brings back some good memories. Really glad to be back.
“Jimmy’s playing just a little bit better than I am but it’s great to see him getting off to such a good start.
“I think our performances just show the high levels of the amateur game and that the guys coming through can play good enough golf to compete at the professional level.
“Delighted for Jimmy, hopefully I can catch him over the weekend, but time will tell.”
Co-leader Mullen admitted that it was “impossible not to think about winning.
“But I’ve got to just try and take care of tomorrow and see what happens on Sunday. It’s unbelievable, really, to be in this position in my first event as a pro – it’s the stuff you dream about.
"I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself and look at the leaderboard and take it in. We’re only halfway but see what we can do over the next couple days.”
Mullen and Co have their work cut out with the likes of two-time major winner Martin Kaymer just three shots behind on eight under.
Then there’s Graeme McDowell, who is showing signs that he’s close to finding good form again.
While he’d like to have done better than a three under 69 at Kingsbarns, he’s made just one bogey in 36 holes and shares 13th place on seven under, just four shots off the pace.
The Ryder Cup star started with 11 consecutive pars, but kept his cool and rallied on the front nine with birdies at the third, sixth and the par-five ninth,
"I didn't play as well today," McDowell told Sky Sports 4. "The first nine was tricky and it was hard to get the ball close to the flag.
"I couldn't really get it going and then frustration started to set in. In benign conditions you're not going to get these courses any easier, so you have to do your best to try and stay as patient as you possibly can.
"I hung in there, hit some nice shots on my second nine and made a couple of putts coming in, so I'm happy enough.
“This would be a really nice weekend to compete and would be a really good step in the right direction.”
Darren Clarke had two eagles in a four under 68 at Kingsbarns to tie for 33rd on five under but Peter Lawrie’s 73 at St Andrews relegated him 31 spots to 39th on four under, one better than Damien McGrane, who shot 71 on the Old Course.
The rest of the Irish are battling to make the cut with Shane Lowry’s 69 at Kingsbarns leaving him tied on one under with Kevin Phelan, who did well to shoot 72 at St Andrews.
Michael Hoey (73 SA) is on level par alongside Padraig Harrington, whose 69 at Kingsbarns might have been a shot or two lower.
Maynooth University’s Gary Hurley made one bogey and one birdie in a solid 71 at Carnoustie but now needs a four or five under par round on the Old Course today to have a good chance of making a cheque in his first professional start.
Despite an eagle two at the 10th, Paul McGinley shot a one over 73 at Kingsbarns and at four over, he’ll need an exceptional score around the Old Course to remain in the tournament.
In the Pro-Am,Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Dermot Desmond lead share the lead on 19 under (65-60) whole Paul Dunne and Keith Bowman are back in tied 21st with Hurley and Brian O’Driscoll on 15 under.
Graeme McDowell and AP McCoy are tied 44th on 13 under with Damien McGrane and Pritesh Shah.
Padraig Harrington and JP McManus rallied with a 64 but are tied 80th.
Complete Second Round Scores:
133 A Wall (Eng) 65 68, J Mullen (Eng) 64 69,
134 J Donaldson (Wal) 69 65, C Stroud (USA) 68 66, Paul Dunne (Irl) 64 70, T Olesen (Den) 68 66,
135 G Mulroy (RSA) 67 68,
136 A Cañizares (Esp) 69 67, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 68, B Dredge (Wal) 73 63, B Hebert (Fra) 69 67, N Holman (Aus) 68 68,
137 D Lingmerth (Swe) 71 66, Graeme McDowell (Nir) 68 69, B Grace (RSA) 73 64, S Kjeldsen (Den) 65 72, J Morrison (Eng) 67 70, M Warren (Sco) 68 69, G Storm (Eng) 69 68, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 72 65, M Madsen (Den) 70 67,
138 F Fritsch (Ger) 68 70, K Broberg (Swe) 64 74, B Wiesberger (Aut) 70 68, S Cink (USA) 73 65, S Piercy (USA) 69 69, A Otaegui (Esp) 68 70, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 75 63, R Bland (Eng) 65 73, A Levy (Fra) 67 71, M Ilonen (Fin) 71 67, M Lampert (Ger) 67 71,
139 N Dougherty (Eng) 72 67, S Gallacher (Sco) 67 72, J Randhawa (Ind) 70 69, D Van Tonder (RSA) 69 70, E Els (RSA) 72 67, Darren Clarke (Nir) 71 68,
140 J Parry (Eng) 70 70, Y Yang (Kor) 72 68, S Hansen (Den) 71 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 72, M Fraser (Aus) 66 74, F Aguilar (Chi) 67 73, R Wattel (Fra) 70 70, R Jacquelin (Fra) 68 72, Peter Lawrie (Irl) 67 73, D Fichardt (RSA) 69 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 72 68, R Dinwiddie (Eng) 71 69, M Foster (Eng) 68 72,
141 G Bourdy (Fra) 71 70, J Quesne (Fra) 71 70, Damien McGrane (Irl) 70 71, L Donald (Eng) 71 70, M Bremner (RSA) 70 71, T Van Der Walt (RSA) 75 66, T Lewis (Eng) 75 66, T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 71, H Otto (RSA) 70 71, P Uihlein (USA) 69 72, J Kruger (RSA) 73 68, E Espana (Fra) 73 68, B Koepka (USA) 72 69, J Walters (RSA) 72 69,
142 F Zanotti (Par) 67 75, M Kieffer (Ger) 71 71, D Horsey (Eng) 72 70, C Schwartzel (RSA) 72 70, G Stal (Fra) 69 73, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 74 68, A Dodt (Aus) 72 70, E Compton (USA) 74 68, P Hanson (Swe) 70 72, J Luiten (Ned) 70 72, B Evans (Eng) 70 72, J Lagergren (Swe) 71 71, R Green (Aus) 69 73, A Quiros (Esp) 70 72, R Finch (Eng) 69 73, J Blaauw (RSA) 76 66, P Larrazábal (Esp) 72 70, M Carlsson (Swe) 70 72, O Fisher (Eng) 70 72, O Farr (Wal) 71 71, V Dubuisson (Fra) 74 68, D Willett (Eng) 74 68,
143 Kevin Phelan (Irl) 71 72, S Jeffress (Aus) 73 70, S Hutsby (Eng) 68 75, N Fasth (Swe) 74 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 74 69, S Benson (Eng) 70 73, C Wood (Eng) 71 72, L Westwood (Eng) 71 72, N Cullen (Aus) 70 73, N Colsaerts (Bel) 73 70, M Lundberg (Swe) 71 72, M Tullo (Chi) 69 74, T Bjørn (Den) 71 72, T Pieters (Bel) 72 71,
144 T Hatton (Eng) 69 75, P Edberg (Swe) 71 73, M Brown (Nzl) 75 69, J Campillo (Esp) 77 67, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 75 69, R Karlberg (Swe) 73 71, R Kakko (Fin) 73 71, J Ahlers (RSA) 71 73, J Barnes (Eng) 71 73, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 75, R Lee (Can) 76 68, A Chesters (Eng) 73 71, M Nixon (Eng) 72 72, S Lewton (Eng) 70 74, J Younger (Aus) 73 71, B An (Kor) 73 71, Michael Hoey (Nir) 71 73,
145 Gary Hurley (Irl) 73 72, P Lawrie (Sco) 70 75, W Ormsby (Aus) 73 72, J Harvey (RSA) 72 73, S Kapur (Ind) 75 70, M Manassero (Ita) 70 75, A Sullivan (Eng) 74 71, N Elvira (Esp) 70 75, J Higginbottom (Aus) 75 70, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 75,
146 P Martin Benavides (Esp) 71 75, O Schniederjans (USA) 75 71, J Roos (RSA) 72 74, R Fisher (Eng) 68 78, G Havret (Fra) 71 75,
147 D Howell (Eng) 75 72, P Perez (USA) 78 69, D Lipsky (USA) 72 75, B Neil (Sco) 75 72, D Brooks (Eng) 75 72, P Peterson (USA) 68 79, R Rock (Eng) 72 75,
148 K Horne (RSA) 73 75, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 74 74, S Dartnall (Aus) 71 77, O Wilson (Eng) 74 74, J Harding (RSA) 76 72, L Slattery (Eng) 71 77, Paul McGinley (Irl) 75 73,
149 S O'Hair (USA) 76 73,
150 A Johnston (Eng) 74 76, T Pilkadaris (Aus) 74 76, R Pugh (Wal) 73 77, D Papadatos (Aus) 74 76, M Ford (Eng) 75 75, R Paratore (Ita) 74 76,
151 L Bjerregaard (Den) 76 75, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 75 76,
152 S Hend (Aus) 77 75, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 81 71, S Chawrasia (Ind) 77 75, R Fox (Nzl) 75 77,
153 T Levet (Fra) 75 78, M Crespi (Ita) 78 75, J Singh (Ind) 77 76,
154 R Karlsson (Swe) 77 77, C Lee (Sco) 79 75,
155 J Daly (USA) 74 81, E Pepperell (Eng) 74 81,
** C Doak (Sco) 73 RT,