Paul Dunne back to work and ready to take it to the next level
Irishman is facing into a three-week stretch of Rolex Series events to finish his season
Paul Dunne, Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington of Ireland play a practice round ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Antalya, Turkey. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
The evidence of Paul Dunne’s work is carved into the ground in front of him. With all the precision of a surgeon using a scalpel, the 24-year-old Greystones player has created a giant divot in the turf. From front to back, it measures almost three feet. He’s been working away with his irons for the guts of an hour, using a towering pine tree in front of him as a natural marker over which to fire shot after shot with the sort of accuracy that has enabled him to impact hugely on the European Tour this season.
This golfing year is not over yet; and, for the in-form Dunne, the Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya resort – the first of three successive Rolex Series tournaments that also includes next week’s Nedbank championship and the season-closing DP World championship in Dubai – is the focus, another chance to augment his CV with a win.
Dunne’s win in last month’s British Masters was followed by a particularly hectic playing schedule which hasn’t allowed him any time for reflection yet. “I haven’t had time to reset goals, so I’ll just keep playing well and see if I can win again. I think that’s what the Christmas period will be for me (resetting goals).”
He added: “I haven’t really had any time off since I won, they’ve all been big events, the Dunhill, the Italian Open. I’d a week at home but didn’t really practice at all. It was a mixture of the weather being really poor and me being a bit lazy, tired after the run and with five weeks to go the break was important.
“But then I was getting ready for China (the HSBC Champions) and looking at these four weeks after it. When I went home I didn’t really practice at all, I ended up chipping for an hour and that was it. It showed last week, I wasn’t swinging it great. I was up there most of the week but I was kind of scrambling my way around and really struggled, Sunday was one of those days when you forget how to play (Dunne shot a closing round 79). It was only something small I was struggling with, just need time on the range, something small. I’ll get it back.”
Dunne – one of three Irish players in the Turkish Airlines Open, along with Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington – is into the second week of a five-week stretch that will take him up to the Hong Kong Open, the week after the DP World. It’s a stretch of big money tournaments, yet Dunne’s focus is more on accumulating world ranking points and solidifying his position in the Race to Dubai. He is currently 14th, a position on the order of merit which gets him into next year’s British Open and the WGC in Mexico. His British Masters win gets him into the WG-Bridgestone Invitational.
“The position I’m in, I’d have to play poorly to not to get into the top 20. So, I am kind of forgetting about that. The top 10 is into the bonus pool of money but that’s only money, it doesn’t open many opportunities. The biggest thing is world ranking points. I’m 80th, so points are great over the next few weeks. If I can jump up there, I know that top 64 gets into the WGC Matchplay and the top 50) opens loads of doors. They’re all outside things, so just play the tournament you’re in and try and shoot six-under ever day,” said Dunne.
With just three tournaments left in the Race to Dubai, all of them big-money, no-cut events, there is the potential for players to take destiny into their own hands. Tommy Fleetwood heads the order of merit but Justin Rose – winner in China last week – is among those who have the Englishman in their sights heading into the final stretch of events.
Turkish Airlines Open – The lowdown
Purse: €6 million (€985,495 to the winner).
Defending champion: Thorbjorn Olesen.
Course: Regnum Carya (Par 71) (7,159 yards). Designed by Thomson Perrett & Lobb – the golf design practice established by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson – the course is located close to the Mediterranean Sea and set on undulating sand hills which works its way through a pine forest. Over one million heather plants have been added to create a heathland effect. The course lends itself to aggressive play, so expect plenty of birdies.
Betting: Justin Rose – who admitted his win in the HSBC Champions in China felt like “stealing” the tournament, after he came from eight shots behind in the final round – and Henrik Stenson, runner-up to Rose last week, are joint favourites at 15/2 with Tyrrell Hatton, who had a top-10 here last year, rated a 12/1 shot to claim a third win on tour in little over a month. Tommy Fleetwood, the order of merit leader, and Matt Fitzpatrick are 18/1. Shane Lowry will need to find a hot putter on these greens and is 25/1 with Paul Dunne a 35/1 shot and Pádraig Harrington at 100/1.
On TV: All four rounds will be shown on Sky Sports Golf (9.00).