Faultless Paul Dunne takes the first round lead in Turkey
Seven birdies in an impressive opening 64 sees Greystones golfer set the early pace
Paul Dunne made a fine start to the Turkish Airlines Open, shooting a first round 64. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty
A curling right-to-left breaking 30-footer for birdie on his finishing hole provided further evidence that Paul Dunne’s touch was back, as the Greystones man – who’d missed four of his last six cuts on tour – shot a “stress-free” round of 64, seven-under-par, to claim the first round lead in the Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya resort in Antalya.
On a day of beautiful weather with barely a breath of wind, Dunne’s bogey-free round gave him a one stroke lead over a trio which featured a rejuvenated Pádraig Harrington, who has seemed like a different player since returning to play on the European circuit after failing to make the FedEx Cup playoffs stateside, defending champion Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Dunne – returning to tournament play after a two-week break which included spending seven days in Alabama with his swing coach Eric Eshleman working on his iron play – played with confidence and, on the odd occasion he was out of position, like on the Par 3 eighth hole where he missed the green and was left with a difficult chip, his short game came to the rescue as he moved to the top of the leaderboard in the quest for the €1 million winner’s cheque.
“My iron play was pretty good. I think the biggest thing I did out there was on the three or four difficult tee shots, I hit really good tee shots, and apart from that, the ones I leaked a little bit were on holes you could get away with it and you could make birdie still from the rough. That’s what I was pleased with, the holes I needed to hit a good shot on, I stepped up and hit a really straight one,” said Dunne.
“This is a course I saw for the first time last year and I like it. It sets up nicely for me. I was hoping to give it a hundred percent and hopefully I can build on this,” he added.
Dunne enjoyed a strong stretch earlier in the season which included a runner-up finish to Jon Rahm at the Spanish Open and a win with Gavin Moynihan in the GolfSixes, an unofficial event on the European Tour, but struggled of late.
“I just haven’t been hitting the ball very well. I lost my iron play a little bit, stopped giving myself chances, medium to short irons. Just scrambled for par for three months really,” he said of that spell, which he has now ironed out.
Harrington got off to a flying start with four birdies in his opening five holes, and had further chances coming in including a five-footer on the 18th which he failed to convert. Shane Lowry opened with a three under par 68, in tied-20th.
(Par 71, British and Irish unless stated)
64 Paul Dunne
65 Justin Rose, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Pádraig Harrington
66 Haotong Li (Chn), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Sam Horsfield, Ashun Wu (Chn), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Thomas Detry (Bel), Lee Westwood
67 Jason Scrivener (Aus), Matt Wallace, Julian Suri (USA), Danny Willett, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Chris Paisley, Gavin Green (Mal), Alexander Levy (Fra)
68 Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Andrea Pavan (Ita), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp)
69 Tom Lewis, Ryan Fox (Nzl), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Matthias Schwab (Aut)
70 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Joost Luiten (Ned), George Coetzee (Rsa), Lee Slattery, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Stephen Gallacher, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Russell Knox
71 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Andrew Johnston, Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Nacho Elvira (Spa), Oliver Fisher, Aaron Rai
72 Ross Fisher, Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Ashley Chesters, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn), Andy Sullivan, Dean Burmester (Rsa), Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Jens Dantorp (Swe)
73 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Scott Hend (Aus), Robert Rock, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Renato Paratore (Ita)
74 Ali Altuntas (Tur), Leon Acikalin (Tur, am), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Jordan Smith, Richard Sterne (Rsa)
75 Paul Waring, Richard McEvoy, Thomas Pieters (Bel)
77 Julien Guerrier (Fra)
78 (Taner Yamac (Tur, am), Matthew Southgate