Dunne lurking in La Jolla; braced for brutal Sunday

Dunne lurking in La Jolla; braced for brutal Sunday
Paul Dunne birdies the 18th

Paul Dunne birdies the 18th

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But even Greystones’ Paul Dunne is hoping that Sunday’s final round forecast of constant rain and 55kph winds doesn’t blow him away too.

The 23-year old produced another excellent performance on his professional PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open, rolling in a slippery 12 footer for birdie at the 18th for a 71 that leaves him tied for 17th on five under and just four shots off the lead.

American Scott Brown (70) and veteran KJ Choi lead the way on nine under par by one stroke from US Ryder Cup star Jimmy Walker (68) and big-hitting Gary Woodland(73) with Michael Kim (70), John Huh (71) and Swedes Jonas Blixt (66) and Freddie Jacobson (71), just two behind in joint fifth.

Dunne needs help from a lot of players ahead of him at the clifftop, La Jolla venue and when asked if he could win with a very Irish Sunday forecast due, he gave a sensible answer.

“Yeah, but to have a chance I need to shoot a few under in horrific conditions tomorrow,” Dunne told Sky Sports with smile. "We will see. Yes, I have played in a lot of bad weather in amateur golf in Ireland but this is a different kind of course — a long parkland course with thick rough. Hopefully the weather is rough enough but not too rough.”

The good news for Dunne is that while he is not hitting a lot of fairways, he is scoring well, thanks mainly to a hot putter. 

According to the PGA Tour, he is second in the field for strokes gained putting after a third round featuring three bogeys and four birdies.

The former Walker Cup player holed five good putts on his last six greens to dip into the red for the third day running and give himself a chance to build the foundation of a run at a PGA Tour card with another invitation in the bag for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in a fortnight.

Dunne showed his class on Friday when he sat on the cut line with six holes to play and finished birdie-eagle for a 71 on the North Course to make it with ease.

“Yesterday my swing didn’t feel great,” Dunne said. "I was struggling with it all day and it was nice to put three good swings together on the last two holes and roll in some nice putts and it definitely made my dinner taste a little bit better.” 

Paul Dunne hits to the eighth

Paul Dunne hits to the eighth

Dunne started with a bogey after find sand greenside at the first and when he dropped another shot at the fourth, it looked like a long day ahead.

A chip and putt birdie at the par-five sixth eased the pressure and when he holed a 12 footer for par at the seventh and followed it with a great birdie two at the eighth, he eased nicely into the round.

“I had 182 to the flag,” he said of his near tap in at the eighth. "It was a perfect number, a seven iron for me with the wind slightly behind. The hole was in a bit of a bowl there so I knew if I got something going a little bit right and bit past it would come back. 

“it was nice to put a good swing on it and get it down to nearly gimme range." 

A three-putt bogey at the par-three 11th wasn’t in his plans but he holed a nice four footer for par at the next, drained a 25 footer for birdie at the par-five 13th and then slotted in a six footer for at the 14th to keep his momentum going.

He had to hole good putts for par from four feet at the 15th and seven feet at the 16th (where Chesson Hadley had five-putted for a triple earlier) before then knocking in a nine footer to avoid a long range three putt at the 17th. 

On his closing birdie four, he said: “I had a wedge shot from 76 yards and I tried to land it in the slope from the semi-rough and it just flew over slope. 

“I was lucky it came back off the back fringe and I left myself a makeable putt and it was nice to roll it in." 

Paul Dunne and US based Greystones man, Alan Murray, his caddie in The Open.

Paul Dunne and US based Greystones man, Alan Murray, his caddie in The Open.

If Dunne was pleased, Shane Lowry will not have been smiling too much after battling to a one over 73 that leaves him tied 41st on one-under.

The world No 21 made just two birdies, both at par-fives while his third bogey of the day at the 10th was a three putt from 50 feet.