Paul Dunne is in position to challenge for his maiden European Tour win and a third successive Open Championship appearance after carding a career low 63 in the second round of the Joburg Open.
Making his first start of the year after a viral infection forced him to miss the BMW SA Open last week, the 23-year old Greystones star fired eight birdies in a bogey free effort around the West Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club for his lowest score since he turned professional four months ago.
Clearly delighted by his performance on the greens, Dunne took to Twitter to tell his near 25,000 followers the good news.
The hero of last year’s Open at St Andrews, Walker Cup winner Dunne is tied for eighth place on nine under par, just five shots behind England’s Ross McGowan who opened up a three-shot lead on 14 under par over Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, compatriot Anthony Wall and South Africans Haydn Porteous and Jean Hugo.
With three places at The Open Championship at Royal Troon on offer for the top three players, not already exempt, to finish in the top 10, Dunne has a chance to qualify for his third Open in a row and his first as a professional.
He began his professional career by cruising through Stage One of Q-School before making a hole-in-one in an an eight under 64 at Kingsbarns in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links.
Former Madrid Masters winner McGowan, who came home in six under 29 thanks to two birdies and two eagles, was a Q-School graduate alongside Dunne last year having lost his card in 2011 following a series of injury hit seasons.
Mount Jullet’s Kevin Phelan shot a level par 72 on on the East Course and Michael Hoey a two under 69 on the West as they made the cut on the three over par mark alongside four time major winner Ernie Els.
But there was not luck for Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee, who slipped to a five over 76 on the West Course to miss the weekend action by seven strokes on four over.