Dunne leads by two: "If I break 70 again it’s going to be hard to catch me"

Dunne leads by two: "If I break 70 again it’s going to be hard to catch me"
 RABAT, MOROCCO - APRIL 15:  Paul Dunne of Ireland plays a shot during the third round of the Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam on April 15, 2017 in Rabat, Morocco.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

RABAT, MOROCCO - APRIL 15:  Paul Dunne of Ireland plays a shot during the third round of the Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam on April 15, 2017 in Rabat, Morocco.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Paul Dunne believes he's ready to win his maiden European Tour title after a third round 69 gave him a two-shot lead over young Italian star Renato Paratore in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco.

The 24-year-old Greystones star has been driving the ball longer and straighter than ever and if his putter is hot on the final day, he hopes that a sub-70 round will make him impossible to catch around par-73 Royal Dar es Salaam.

The former Walker Cup winner was an amateur when he famously entered the final round of the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews with a share of the lead

He was hoping for a dream day at the Home of Golf that Monday afternoon but now he's unsurprised to find himself contending for his first European Tour win and having put himself in good positions several times over the past year, he's confident he will have a chance to win if he continues to play his game. 

And after 18 months as a professional, his final round experience at The Open, where he ended up tied 30th after a final round 78, can only be a positive.

“I can definitely learn from The 2015 Open," said Dunne, who had yet to be reunited with his luggage and his clothing with the accompanying sponsors' logos

"St Andrews is so different, there were thousands of people there and it’s a big amphitheatre atmosphere.

“I wasn’t expecting to be leading there and it was a bit of a bonus. Now, I’m kind of expecting to be leading if I play well. It’s different, I feel like I’m more ready to win than I was then. 

"I feel like it’s something I should do rather than like the end of a great story. I will learn from it but it will be a different atmosphere tomorrow.

“If I break 70 again I think it’s going to be hard for someone to catch me, so I’m just going to try and do that.”

Dunne began brightly, opening with a birdie before adding two more for a three under front nine. 

He then picked up shots at the tenth and 12th to move three clear, but a double-bogey at the 13th pegged him back.

Having found the rough with his drive and then again with his second shot at the long par five 18th hole, he managed a superb up-and-down courtesy of a delightful 25-foot putt for a closing birdie and a four under par 69 and a two-shot lead on eight-under-par

“I’ve been playing well recently, and I haven’t played a tournament for four weeks with the break we had, so I felt like it took me a while to get going with my swing this week," Dunne said.

“But today was a much easier round that the last couple of days. I didn’t putt as well as I did in the last couple of days, but I hit the ball a lot better. I’m really pleased, I’ve been doing some good work and I’m happy with where I am.

“I’ve picked up four miles an hour clubhead speed in the last year. I don’t know what I’d put it down to, a couple of tweaks in my swing, a bit of work in the gym or a bit more stretching but it’s helping. I’ve been hitting it straighter than I have in the past too and that helps around here."

Paratore, 20, carded a best-of-the-day, seven-under-par, course-record 66 to move from one shot off the cut line to second place on six under. 

Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal, Paul Waring of England and Dane Lasse Jensen were all a shot further back on five under.

“I played really well today, holed a lot of putts and that helped me a lot today," Paratore said. 

"Everything was good and then in the last six holes, I finished really well so it was a great round.

“I played really solid from the tee and the short game was really good too. I think it is probably my best round on the European Tour. It’s a nice thing for me, it’s always good to shoot a course record.

“It’s a really tough course because from the tee it’s narrow and the greens are really tight so it’s a good test. It’s really nice to play in the final groups tomorrow, it will be a very nice day.”

Scores

211 P Dunne (Irl) 73 69 69, 

213 R Paratore (Ita) 73 74 66, 

214 P Waring (Eng) 74 71 69, P Larrazábal (Esp) 72 73 69, L Jensen (Den) 75 69 70, 

215 G Havret (Fra) 70 70 75, G Bourdy (Fra) 71 71 73, L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 71 74, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 71 70 74, E Molinari (Ita) 71 74 70, D Frittelli (RSA) 71 72 72, 

216 C Pigem (Esp) 75 72 69, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 72 72 72, R Gonzalez (Arg) 74 71 71, V Dubuisson (Fra) 73 71 72, C Hanson (Eng) 74 70 72, 

217 R Gouveia (Por) 75 69 73, A Wall (Eng) 74 73 70, D Brooks (Eng) 73 71 73, J Campillo (Esp) 74 69 74, M Pavon (Fra) 72 73 72, 

218 S Heisele (Ger) 72 73 73, D Stewart (Sco) 72 72 74, D Burmester (RSA) 78 70 70, J Luiten (Ned) 75 72 71, J Smith (Eng) 73 75 70, A Otaegui (Esp) 73 72 73, T Lewis (Eng) 75 68 75, M Manassero (Ita) 72 74 72, 

219 J Winther (Den) 72 74 73, A Chesters (Eng) 73 74 72, L Slattery (Eng) 74 72 73, J Stalter (Fra) 76 72 71, D Drysdale (Sco) 72 76 71, C Paisley (Eng) 76 72 71, P Edberg (Swe) 71 73 75, A Rai (Eng) 72 75 72, R Karlberg (Swe) 75 73 71, M Nixon (Eng) 74 73 72, S Tiley (Eng) 75 72 72, A Karlsson (Swe) 72 73 74, 

220 J Van Zyl (RSA) 71 75 74, A Levy (Fra) 71 75 74, G Stal (Fra) 70 75 75, M Ilonen (Fin) 72 73 75,

221 R Wattel (Fra) 72 76 73, D Im (USA) 74 73 74, B Hebert (Fra) 75 68 78, A Saddier (Fra) 73 73 75, J Morrison (Eng) 70 72 79, M Foster (Eng) 72 74 75, L Canter (Eng) 74 73 74, S Soderberg (Swe) 73 73 75, H Porteous (RSA) 77 70 74, J Lagergren (Swe) 75 73 73, 

222 R Bland (Eng) 74 73 75, M Orrin (Eng) 71 76 75, M Armitage (Eng) 76 70 76, R Johnson (Swe) 72 76 74, J Fahrbring (Swe) 73 75 74, W Ormsby (Aus) 75 71 76, 

223 M Southgate (Eng) 75 73 75, J Guerrier (Fra) 76 71 76, S Gros (Fra) 77 70 76, A Cañizares (Esp) 72 76 75, 

224 D Perrier (Fra) 74 74 76, J Edfors (Swe) 73 71 80, A Lguirati (am) (Mar) 76 71 77, 

226 J Dantorp (Swe) 73 74 79, B Evans (Eng) 72 75 79, R Echenique (Arg) 73 74 79,