Leader Paul Dunne to draw on Open experience in Morocco
Irish golfer two shots clear going into final round of Trophee Hassan II
Ireland’s Paul Dunne plays a bunker shot during the third round of the Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat, Morocco. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Paul Dunne will use all his experience from sharing the lead going into the final round of the British Open as an amateur when he takes a two-shot lead to the first tee in the final round of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Sunday.
The Greystones golfer carded a four-under 69 for the second straight day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam near Rabat to move to eight under, two clear of Italy’s Renato Paratore, whose 66 was the low round of the week.
Dunne memorably held the joint lead going into the final round of the 2015 British Open at St Andrews before a closing 78 saw him tumble down the leaderboard as Zach Johnson went on the claim the title.
Dunne admits that this time around he feels entitled to push on for a maiden European Tour win in the €2.5 million event.
“I wasn’t expecting to be leading and it was a bit of a bonus,” Dunne said of his performance at St Andrews, where he shot 66 in his third round. “ I think now I kind of expect if I play well to be up there with a chance so it’s different.
“ I feel like . . . I’m not going to say I’m going to win tomorrow but I feel like I’m more ready to win that I was then, I’m feeling like it’s something I should do rather than the end to a great story so I definitely think it’s different. I will learn from it but it will be a different atmosphere tomorrow.”
Dunne stretched his lead over Paratore with a birdie on the par-five closing hole, one of six he carded during his third round. His own setback came with a double-bogey on the short par-four 13th hole.
The 24-year-old confirmed that he has been able to transfer good work on the practice ground during the break in the European Tour schedule to the course this week, although it took time to feel comfortable.
“I’ve been playing well recently but I haven’t played a tournament in four weeks with the break we’ve had so it kind of felt like it took me a while to get going with my swing like I have been practising, but today was a much easier round than the last couple of days.”
Dunne admitted that he has picked up some length off the tee in the last year, but that his accuracy has been key in getting to the top of the leaderboard in Morocco.
“I’ve probably picked up four miles an hour of clubhead speed in the last year,” said Dunne. “ I don’t know what I’d put it down to, maybe a couple of tweaks in my swing, a little bit more in the gym, maybe some more stretching, I don’t really know. I’m swinging it a bit faster, I’ve picked up a bit of distance but I’ve been hitting it straighter than I’ve been in the past so that helps around here.”
Meanwhile, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell both made positive moves in the third round of the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.
Lowry made the cut by one shot after a second round of 75 but six birdies in his opening 10 holes moved him to six under at Harbour Town Golf Links. The two par-three holes on the back nine proved his undoing. He made a double-bogey five on the 14th and a bogey four on the 17th to finish with a two-under 69, three under for the tournament.
Former champion McDowell also carded a 69 and is one shot ahead of Lowry on four under.