Jet-lagged Paul Dunne didn’t sleep a wink overnight but remained alert and defied strong swirling winds to soar into contention for the Australian PGA.
The 23-year old Greystones native carded a level par 72 to share seventh place after the opening round, despite taking double bogey six at his second hole, as Kevin Phelan ended the day tied 97th after a 78.
Having started on the back nine, rookie professional Dunne birdied four his next seven holes to turn in two under 34 at RACV Royal Pines Resort on Queensland's breezy Gold Coast.
While he dropped shots coming home at the first and seventh, his 10th and 16th holes, the world No 671 was more than pleased to match par in just his fifth start in a regular tour event on a day when just six players shot in the red.
“Obviously I grew up playing lots of wind golf on the Irish amateur circuit,” Dunne said, who ended the day five shots behind South Africa’s Zander Lombard, who posted a magnificent, bogey free, five under 67.
"I think Irish people are just more used to it. I think they just don’t lose the plot as much. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s just a matter of trying to make pars.
"If you make some birdies, the birdies will come. That’s great, it’s a bonus but it’s just kind of putting it in spots to give yourself the easiest chance of a par.”
As for his jetlag following his trip to Australia from last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, where both he and Kevin Phelan missed the cut, he’s looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight.
“I’m really happy with the start,” he said. “I didn’t even get a second of sleep last night. I think I slept in too much yesterday, I slept about 14 hours yesterday and then it was just a long night.
"I was in bed at 11 and I was awake till 4.30 when my alarm went off, so I’m looking forward to a bit of rest.”
Lombard carded what the European Tour described as “a quite unbelievable bogey-free 67” to lead by two strokes from England’s Mark Foster after round one.
Lombard’s countryman Dylan Frittelli lies joint third alongside leading Australian Ashley Hall on two under, while the only two other players in the field of 156 to get under par were the Aussie pair of Todd Sinnott and Adam Stephens.
Foster almost pulled out of the event after a disappointing weekend at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, but has now put himself firmly in contention to produce a memorable week some 10,000 miles from his home.
England’s Tom Lewis and Dunne, who both have the claim to fame of leading recent Open Championships whilst still playing in the amateur ranks, are among the chasing pack on level par.
Lewis should have been one shot better off, but after his ball moved on the 18th green when he was about to address his putt, the 24 year old called a one shot penalty on himself for the avoidance of doubt to finish the day on level par.
Sweden’s David Lingmerth, winner of Jack Nickalus’s Memorial Tournament earlier this year, carded a one over par 71 but American Brandt Snedeker – the highest rank player in the field – had a day to forget as he slumped to a 12 over par 84.
“I played really well, hit the ball solidly and always helps things when you strike it well. It definitely got tricky out there, some of the greens with the wind to read them and get the pace right was tough, but I think I managed well. But it’s still early days. See how the rest of the week goes. I was fortunate to travel a bit earlier and had some time to get over the jetlag. I got a nice rhythm on Wednesday on the range and kept it going today. The Gold Coast is a lot like home for me – similar weather so I’m enjoying it at the moment.”
“It was a great day obviously. I laughed my socks off walking to the 18th green when a spectator said ‘they’ve had it easier this afternoon’, and I was like, I don't know what he was watching but the wind was everywhere. So I was really pleased with it. At breakfast this morning you could hear the flag poles banging and I looked at the scores so I knew what we were getting. But the one thing the wind did was focus me really well – I played good. Three under feels like seven or eight under.”
“It was a bit of a shame on the 18th, my ball moved a tiny bit so technically I feel like I shot one under but I didn’t know whether it was the wind or not. I didn’t touch the ball but I called John Paramor to the scorers hut and after a chat with him I called the one shot penalty because we couldn’t be certain if it was wind that had moved it even though that was pretty obvious. I suppose that’s one of those things that happens to everyone at some point and it just happened to me today.
“I feel happy. I’ve had some time off. Obviously I’m disappointed with my finish for the year so I’m kind of going to move on and assess my situation, but I put way too much pressure on myself over the last four years and didn’t really enjoy it that much. I thought I might have walked away and did something else for a while but then I thought there’s a lot of things I need to improve and it’s going to be a battle and I just need to get my head down and start fresh.”
Round One Scores:
67 Z Lombard (RSA),
69 M Foster (Eng),
70 D Frittelli (RSA), A Hall (Aus),
71 T Sinnott (Aus), A Stephens (Aus),
72 M Millar (Aus), J Scrivener (Aus), N Cullen (Aus), A Pike (Aus), T Lewis (Eng), Paul Dunne (Irl), J Kruyswijk (RSA), B Virto Astudillo (Esp),
73 A Brown (Aus), N Ravano (Ita), J Zunic (Aus), J Senden (Aus), J Wilson (Aus), R Green (Aus), D Lingmerth (Swe),
74 S Fernandez (Esp), C Wood (Aus), N Basic (Aus), R Bourke (Aus), D McKenzie (Aus), H Varner Iii (USA), B Rumford (Aus), M McCardle (Aus), B Åkesson (Swe), W Ormsby (Aus), S Strange (Aus), B Eccles (Aus), R Fox (Nzl),
75 O Bekker (RSA), D Nisbet (Aus), D Lawson (Aus), P Uihlein (USA), D Papadatos (Aus), J Younger (Aus), D Fox (Aus), A Price (Aus), N Bertasio (Ita), S Dartnall (Aus), P Martin Benavides (Esp),
76 R Allenby (Aus), P Lonard (Aus), M Griffin (Aus), M Fraser (Aus), A Murdaca (Aus), L McKechnie (Aus), J Ritchie (RSA), B Wharton (Aus), M Wright (Aus), G Chalmers (Aus), A Curlewis (RSA), H Bateman (Nzl), T Bond (Aus), A Houston (Aus), S Surry (Eng), G King (Eng), E Van Rooyen (RSA), A Martin (Aus), S Lee (Kor), B Rankin (Aus), M Goggin (Aus), X Li (Chn), J Nitties (Aus), B Shilton (Nzl), M Brown (Nzl), N Green (Aus), R Van Der Spuy (RSA), J Walters (RSA), Y Liu (Chn), J Hook (Aus), T Van Der Walt (RSA), D Van Den Heever (RSA),
77 D Bransdon (Aus), J Lyle (Aus), T Wood (Aus), D Klein (Ger), S Manley (Wal), S Allan (Aus), J Fahrbring (Swe), N Holman (Aus), L Herbert (Aus), R Enoch (Wal), P Senior (Aus), E Molinari (Ita), C Parry (Aus), V Sexton-Finck (Aus), L Jensen (Den), E Stedman (Aus), P Edberg (Swe), J Geary (Nzl), B Jones (Aus),
78 K Phelan (Irl), C Nel (RSA), C Ford (Eng), J Norris (Aus), A Evans (Aus), M Sim (Aus), G Fairfax (Aus), C Hale (Aus), M Long (Nzl), R Cairns (Zim), D Lloyd (RSA), R Pampling (Aus), C Smith (Aus), S Arnold (Aus), C Wright (Aus),
79 J Blaauw (RSA), P Cooke (Aus), L Canter (Eng), R Gibson (Aus), S Jamieson (Sco), A Blyth (Aus), R Lynch (Aus), T Mordt (RSA), T Cooper (Aus), K Mueck (Aus), M Baldwin (Eng), M Moore (Aus), R Ruffels (am) (Aus),
80 A Summers (Aus), P O'Malley (Aus), L Tighe (Aus), C Hanson (Eng), H Park (Kor), M Docking (Aus), R Carter (USA), T Moore (RSA), O Goss (Aus),
81 D Valente (Aus), N O'Hern (Aus), F Bergamaschi (Ita), L Nemecz (Aut), J McLeod (Aus),
82 G Paddison (Nzl), S Leaney (Aus), S Ferreira (Por), J Zhang (Chn), J Choi (Kor), P Shields (Sco), N Gillespie (Nzl), S Kim (Kor),
83 A Horne (Swz), P Hayden (Aus), D Popovic (Aus),
84 J Lagergren (Swe), M Mandhu (Zim), B Snedeker (USA),
86 A Wilkin (Aus),
87 R Haller (Aus),
88 L Boezaart (RSA),
89 A Gaugert (USA).