Dunne fancies his Abu Dhabi chances after super 66
Paul Dunne

Paul Dunne

Paul Dunne made an eagle and five birdies in a six under par 66 to surge into contention for his maiden European Tour win in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Greystones man, 24, ended the day tied for third on 10 under par with England's Tommy Fleetwood (67), just two strokes behind three-time event winner Martin Kaymer, whose 66 gave him a one shot lead on 12 under par from Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello (66) 

"I was pretty steady for both rounds, hit a lot of greens," said Dunne, who opened with a 68. "I gave myself a lot of chances, made a few and missed a few. So I'd say it's a pretty fair result.

"My game is in good shape — I am happy with the last two days and hopefully I can do the same for the next two days."

He added: "I'm hitting a lot of good iron shots and giving myself a lot of chances. With the greens being as good as they are, you are bound to take a few. It's exciting, yeah. I'm looking forward to a good weekend.

"This is kind of what we were thinking about over Christmas. Nice to get off to a good start but that's all it is.

"We're only halfway there. Hopefully keep doing what we're doing and post some of the same numbers again."

Starting on the back nine, Dunne birdied the par-five 10th and the par-three 15th, then eagled the par-five 18th from six feet to turn in 32.

He then birdied the first and second, bogeyed the third but then birdied the sixth before parring his way home.

He said: "I made a nice eagle on 18. I had like 243 in the fairway bunker and I hit a three-iron to about six feet and made a nice eagle.

"Then I hit a wedge to four feet on the first and had a two-putt birdie on the second. It was a nice stretch.

"I felt like it had been coming as the round went on. It was the same yesterday. I was four-under through 12 yesterday and had loads of chances and didn't take any of them.

"My game feels in good shape. Just going to do a little bit of practice and get ready for tomorrow."

On his hopes for the weekend, he said: "It's nice to be up there again. That's why we practice and what we prepare for.

"So it's going to be nice to be in one of the later groups tomorrow and hopefully I can play like I did for the last couple of days over the weekend and I will have a good chance."

Ranked 45th in the Race to Dubai after a couple of top 30 finishes in Hong Hong and South Africa  before Christmas, Dunne said he did little practice over the winter before heading to Dubai last week to sharpen up his game..

"Everyone wants to [hit the ground running]," he told Sky Sports. "How important it is, I don't know. It might give you a bit of momentum."

He certainly feels like a better player now that he has a year's tour experience under his belt. 

If he drives the ball well, the rest of his game follows. 

 "I definitely feel I'm a better player now than this time last year," he told reporters. "I'm better off the tee and I'm a better iron player.

"If I get the ball in the fairway around this course, the way I'm hitting my irons, I'll give myself a lot of chances and I'm bound to take a few.

"Like I said, with the greens being so good. If I can keep the ball in play like I have the last couple days, just give myself an iron in my hands in the short grass, I'm pretty confident."

Overnight leader Henrik Stenson shot a 71 to lurk just three shots off the lead in a tie for fifth place with Korea's Jeunghun Wang and former winner Pablo Larrazábal of Spain on nine under par.

Peter Uihlein is the leading American in joint 10th on seven under with stars Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler eight off the pace on four under after a brace of 68s.

Masters champion Danny Willett had a quadruple bogey nine on his card as he added a 76 to his opening 74 to miss the cut by eight shots and finish alongside Darren Clarke (75 75) on six over. 

Martin Kaymer

“I felt like I played a little bit better than yesterday. It was a bit more difficult today with the wind, especially the first nine. I struck the ball a little bit better and I made a few long putts today, same as yesterday. I don't try to push at all. I just try to enjoy playing my favourite golf course. Once in a while, when a putt drops in, you catch momentum and you can make another three or four birdies coming in, like it happened today; I think I made only two pars on the back nine.

“It's nice when you can let go. It's one of those things when you practice a lot, you feel good and then you leave the range and then you play a few practice rounds, you play a Pro-Am and it's not quite there yet. And then you hope: Is it tomorrow? Is it Friday or Saturday? The day where everything pays off; and then it pays off right away. I'm not quite a hundred per cent happy yet with how I played. There's a few things here and there, but we always have those little things if you're a perfectionist. But overall, I think it paid off fairly well so far.”

Rafa Cabrera Bello

“The conditions were very nice this morning. Not a breath of wind. The ball was rolling on the green perfectly. I managed to putt very good and kept myself out of trouble. Didn't make those mistakes I made yesterday off the tee. In the end, very pleased with six under.

“My last tournament was Hong Kong, and then I took the entire of December off and the second of January, I started practising. I had two weeks of very, very good practice, first one easing into it and last one pretty hard. I felt my game was coming into shape. Last year was a great season but it was the first season of my career I achieved every single thing I wanted except winning. I can't really put too much blame on myself for that because sometimes you just need to wait for it to happen. I did give myself lots of chances and I know it will happen at some point.”

Henrik Stenson

"I think game-wise, it wasn't too bad. I felt at times I was hitting it better today. A couple of soft bogeys in the middle of the round. I felt a little slow all day. I think I had my best night's sleep, nine hours straight, and felt the worst I've been all week. Just a day where there was not too much going for me, but no catastrophes really. So we're still at the races.”

Complete round two scores

132 M Kaymer (Ger) 66 66,

133 R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 67 66,

134 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 68, T Fleetwood (Eng) 67 67, Paul Dunne (Irl) 68 66,

135 J Wang (Kor) 68 67, H Stenson (Swe) 64 71, T Hatton (Eng) 67 68, P Larrazábal (Esp) 68 67,

136 S Brazel (Aus) 71 65, C Paisley (Eng) 71 65,

137 B Dredge (Wal) 68 69, L Westwood (Eng) 68 69, C Hanson (Eng) 71 66, P Uihlein (USA) 70 67, B Wiesberger (Aut) 68 69, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 67, P Hanson (Swe) 68 69, C Luck (am) (Aus) 72 65,

138 J Smith (Eng) 68 70, T Bjørn (Den) 68 70, B An (Kor) 69 69, B Grace (RSA) 68 70, O Fisher (Eng) 66 72, M Warren (Sco) 66 72, B Hebert (Fra) 71 67, A Noren (Swe) 71 67, R Fisher (Eng) 69 69, G Stal (Fra) 69 69, J Scrivener (Aus) 68 70,

139 D Drysdale (Sco) 70 69, D Burmester (RSA) 69 70, D Brooks (Eng) 73 66, T Olesen (Den) 69 70, L Slattery (Eng) 68 71, G Coetzee (RSA) 70 69, A Wall (Eng) 69 70,

140 M Korhonen (Fin) 68 72, M Carlsson (Swe) 74 66, D Lipsky (USA) 68 72, R Fowler (USA) 72 68, R Wattel (Fra) 72 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 70 70, D Horsey (Eng) 71 69, A Quiros (Esp) 70 70, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 70, R Fox (Nzl) 69 71, D Johnson (USA) 72 68, A Cañizares (Esp) 72 68, M Manassero (Ita) 73 67,

141 T Aiken (RSA) 71 70, S Jamieson (Sco) 71 70, R Gouveia (Por) 72 69, J Donaldson (Wal) 70 71, I Poulter (Eng) 69 72, R Langasque (Fra) 71 70, N Elvira (Esp) 70 71, A Björk (Swe) 69 72, D Im (USA) 70 71, A Dodt (Aus) 75 66, R Ramsay (Sco) 69 72,

142 J Luiten (Ned) 72 70, G Bourdy (Fra) 72 70, J Carlsson (Swe) 72 70, J Van Zyl (RSA) 71 71, L Bjerregaard (Den) 73 69, S Chawrasia (Ind) 68 74, A Otaegui (Esp) 72 70, J Campillo (Esp) 72 70, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 73 69, J Quesne (Fra) 67 75, E De La Riva (Esp) 72 70, C Shinkwin (Eng) 68 74,

143 S Gallacher (Sco) 71 72, P Peterson (USA) 71 72, P Edberg (Swe) 71 72, R Paratore (Ita) 72 71, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 71 72, D Howell (Eng) 73 70, G Havret (Fra) 68 75, R Rock (Eng) 73 70, W Ormsby (Aus) 73 70,

144 S Walker (Eng) 73 71, M Southgate (Eng) 73 71, B Ritthammer (Ger) 72 72, K Broberg (Swe) 71 73, R Karlberg (Swe) 71 73, B Rumford (Aus) 71 73, A Levy (Fra) 72 72, C Wood (Eng) 76 68, J Walters (RSA) 71 73, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 75,

145 N Fasth (Swe) 70 75, J Morrison (Eng) 74 71, T Immelman (RSA) 72 73, S Dyson (Eng) 73 72, T Pieters (Bel) 73 72, T Lewis (Eng) 70 75, R Jacquelin (Fra) 71 74,

146 F Zanotti (Par) 73 73, L Jensen (Den) 72 74, T Jaidee (Tha) 72 74, M Ilonen (Fin) 71 75, S Hend (Aus) 75 71, M Siem (Ger) 73 73, N Colsaerts (Bel) 73 73,

147 F Aguilar (Chi) 70 77, P Lawrie (Sco) 73 74, M Pavon (Fra) 71 76, S Lee (Kor) 75 72, P Waring (Eng) 74 73, R Bland (Eng) 74 73, A Knappe (Ger) 70 77, R Thomas (am) (Ind) 72 75,

148 N Bertasio (Ita) 74 74, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 76, D Stewart (Sco) 71 77, G Storm (Eng) 71 77,

149 H Porteous (RSA) 78 71, D Fichardt (RSA) 75 74,

150 D Clarke (Nir) 75 75, D Willett (Eng) 74 76,

151 D Frittelli (RSA) 79 72,

152 N Holman (Aus) 73 79, S Gros (Fra) 75 77,

153 E Pepperell (Eng) 76 77