Paul Dunne finds form to get into the mix at British Masters

Greystones golfer goes into the weekend four shots off the three-way tie for the lead

Paul Dunne of Ireland tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Paul Dunne of Ireland tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

Paul Dunne found some welcome good golf at the British Masters on Friday as he carded a round of 69 to head into the third round at three under par, four shots off the lead shared by Richard Bland, Robert MacIntyre and Calum Hill.

Dunne won this title at Close House in 2017 – his lone European Tour victory – but has struggled over the last couple of years with a wrist injury causing him to miss a large portion of last year’s pandemic-hit season.

The 28-year-old has missed nine out of 12 cuts since this tournament last year and has slipped all the way to 1,161st in the world rankings with just two top 30 finishes in the last two years.

However, on Thursday at the Belfry the Greystones man rekindled some of the form that saw him claim the British Masters four years ago with four birdies and just one dropped shot in his first 10 holes. A bogey at the 12th moved Dunne back to two under for the day but he finished with a birdie four at the 17th to sign for a three under par round of 70.

Cormac Sharvin, with a second round of 71, finished at level par to make the cut while Jonathan Caldwell also made it into the final two rounds on the cut mark of one over thanks to a round of 69.

However, Dubliner Niall Kearney failed to maintain the momentum of his tied-fourth finish in the Canary Island Championship and missed the cut, as did Glasson-attached club professional Colm Moriarty.

At the top of the leaderboard, Robert MacIntyre justified his position as pre-tournament favourite by claiming a share of the halfway lead.

MacIntyre produced golf which would not have looked out of place on his beloved PlayStation as he birdied the first five holes of his second round on his way to a superb second round of 66.

That took the 24-year-old left-hander alongside fellow Scot Calum Hill and English veteran Richard Bland on seven under par, with 2018 winner Eddie Pepperell, Julien Guerrier and Justin Harding all on six under.

“I was in free flow,” MacIntyre said of his flying start, which only came to an end after a tee shot into the water on the sixth. “I hit a couple close but the putter was working. For me it felt beautiful.

“That could have been a crazy score. I still missed quite a few chances but that’s golf. If I can shoot 66-66 at the weekend playing like that you would take that.”

Asked if he had felt the pressure of being the top-ranked player in the field this week, the world number 45 added: “Not at all. After this (interview) I will hit a few balls, might grab room service and then I bring my PlayStation everywhere I go, so I will be on that for a couple of hours with my pals.

“Taking that with me is a huge stress reliever. I feel sorry for the people that are next to me (in the hotel) because it’s half eleven at night, no matter the tee time, and I’m roaring with my pals on the headset.

“That just keeps me away from golf as much as I can so that when I come out here and am competing it’s 100 per cent focus. I feel I’ve really upped the focus in the last eight months, just focusing on golf when I’m on the golf course, don’t worry about outside things.”

At 48, Bland is twice MacIntyre’s age and admits it would be a dream come true if he could win his first European Tour event at the 478th attempt at such a famous venue.

“It would mean everything, especially at my age,” said Bland, who has yet to record a single bogey on the Brabazon course which has staged four Ryder Cups.

“Of course we’re all here to win and if I could do that at such an iconic event as the British Masters, that would be all your Christmases coming at once I think.

“The chances are probably going to come fewer and farther between — that’s not being negative, that’s being pretty realistic. I’m going to try and go out there and not think about it too much.

“The old cliche, just one shot at a time as best I can.”

Pepperell was in the world’s top 35 after winning this event at Walton Heath in 2018 and again after finishing runner-up in his title defence at Hillside, but has fallen down the rankings and began the week in 210th.

“I’m clearly useless when I don’t play frequently,” he admitted. “When I do play quite often I tend to learn a bit, figure it out and go on a bit of a run. Hopefully this is the beginning of that.

“I want my career to kind of restart a bit. It has felt very stop-start and it’s clear it’s no good for me. I’ve just fallen in some bad habits and I’ve had such a hard time getting out of them.”

Tournament host Danny Willett was four shots off the pace after a disappointing 72, the former Masters champion dropping three shots in his last four holes.

“You can definitely shoot yourself in the foot the first two days because you have got other things on your mind,” Willett said. “You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to get finished, then do this and do this’.

“But it’s been nice to get a couple of steady rounds under my belt and now this weekend, after today’s media and bits and bobs, I can get the head down and really focus on getting up the leaderboard to see if we can have a good performance.”

Collated second round scores and totals in the European Tour Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England (British unless states, Par 72):

137 Robert MacIntyre 71 66, Calum Hill 67 70, Richard Bland 68 69

138 Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 69, Eddie Pepperell 70 68, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 72 66

139 Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 71

140 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 68 72, Andy Sullivan 69 71, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 68 72, Jordan Smith 71 69, David Coupland 71 69, Lee Slattery 72 68, Louis de Jager (Rsa) 68 72, Richard Mansell 69 71

141 Danny Willett 69 72, Chris Wood 69 72, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 70 71, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 66 75, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 69 72, Richie Ramsay 70 71, James Morrison 68 73, Paul Dunne (Irl) 72 69, Joel Stalter (Fra) 69 72, Laurie Canter 70 71

142 Dean Burmester (Rsa) 69 73, Alexander Levy (Fra) 71 71, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 71 71, Sam Horsfield 72 70, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 75 67, Andrew Johnston 71 71, Julian Suri (USA) 68 74, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 73 69, Jeff Winther (Den) 72 70, Ashley Chesters 73 69, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 72 70, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 75 67, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 70 72, Clement Sordet (Fra) 68 74, Josh Geary (Nzl) 70 72

143 Renato Paratore (Ita) 73 70, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 72 71, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 71 72, Ross Fisher 69 74, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 71 72, Ricardo Santos (Por) 73 70, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 70 73

144 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 71 73, Sami Valimaki (Fin) 71 73, Ashun Wu (Chn) 73 71, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 71, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 73 71, Chris Paisley 70 74, Cormac Sharvin (NIrl) 73 71, Darius van Driel (Ned) 74 70, Sebastian Garcia (Spa) 71 73, Garrick Porteous 70 74, Dale Whitnell 70 74, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 71 73

145 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 73 72, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 73 72, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 71 74, Thomas Detry (Bel) 73 72, Matthew Southgate 72 73, Ignacio Elvira (Spa) 73 72, Oliver Wilson 73 72, Gavin Green (Mal) 75 70, Jamie Donaldson 74 71, Jack Senior 72 73, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 74, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 72 73, Johannes Veerman (USA) 71 74, Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl) 76 69, Steven Tiley 74 71

The following players did not make the half-way cut:

146 Jorge Campillo (Spa) 76 70, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 71 75, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 74 72, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 74 72, Justin Walters (Rsa) 74 72, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 74 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 76 70, Sebastian Heisele (Ger) 72 74, Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 73 73, Gregory Havret (Fra) 77 69, Pedro Figueiredo (Por) 74 72, Bernd Ritthammer (Ger) 73 73, Max Schmitt (Ger) 68 78, Nicolai von Dellingshausen (Ger) 73 73, Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind) 74 72

147 Wade Ormsby (Aus) 74 73, David Law 72 75, Robert Rock 73 74, Oliver Farr 74 73, Connor Syme 75 72, Jake McLeod (Aus) 73 74, Tom Gandy (Iom) 73 74

148 Andrea Pavan (Ita) 69 79, Stephen Gallacher 76 72, Haotong Li (Chn) 76 72, Callum Shinkwin 74 74, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 74 74, Romain Langasque (Fra) 75 73, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 78 70, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 71 77, Svn-Hwan Kim (Kor) 72 76, Lars van Meijel (Ned) 77 71, Toby Tree 71 77, David Dixon 72 76

149 Jason Levermore 74 75, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 76 73, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 72 77, Sean Crocker (USA) 72 77, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 75 74, David Howell 74 75, Matthew Jordan 74 75, Marcus Armitage 76 73, Pedro Oriol (Spa) 71 78

150 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 74 76, Steven Brown 71 79, Richard McEvoy 75 75, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 79 71, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 76 74, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 77 73, David Horsey 77 73, Bradley Dredge 75 75, Janne Kaske (Fin) 73 77, Niall Kearney (Irl) 73 77

151 Scott Hend (Aus) 78 73, Michael Bullen 74 77, Marc Warren 74 77, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 76 75, Shiv Chawrasia (Ind) 75 76, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 72 79, Yi-Keun Chang (Kor) 72 79, Ben Evans 77 74

152 Matt Ford 76 76, Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) 76 76, Ross McGowan 75 77, Alejandro Del Rey (Spa) 76 76, Benjamin Poke (Den) 74 78, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (Tha) 76 76

153 Colm Moriarty (Irl) 78 75, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 77 76, Robin Roussel (Fra) 73 80

154 Pep Angles (Spa) 76 78, Wil Besseling (Ned) 77 77, Marcel Schneider (Ger) 79 75

155 Grant Forrest 78 77, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 77 78

157 Rhys Enoch 74 83

158 Scott Jamieson 80 78, David Drysdale 76 82

162 Graeme Storm 82 80

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