Paul Dunne goes pro after achieving ultimate amateur accolade
Walker Cup victory secured as Greystones golfer finds his form in Sunday’s matches
Captain Nigel Edwards gives Paul Dunne a hug on the 18th as Britain and Ireland win the Walker Cup. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
You could call it fate or destiny, but that wouldn’t do justice to the hours spent on the range, on the putting green or in the gym.
It’s mainly about the man himself. And there was something so right about Paul Dunne – in a year when he contended for the claret jug – earning the all-important half of a point, which ensured Britain and Ireland reclaimed the Walker Cup on the famed Lancashire links.
After all, this was Dunne’s swansong to the amateur game. As he moves onto the professional circuit, where every putt will count towards a payday, the Greystones golfer can progress to the next stage of the golfing journey with what he deemed the ultimate accolade as an amateur: being part of a winning Walker Cup team. Not only that, but Dunne, who has a business degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham , also had the distinction of being the one to seal the deal.
After a Saturday which failed to yield a single reward, beaten twice as if thwarted by those golfing gods who revel in the vagaries of links golf, Dunne found redemption and more on the Sunday. This brought an important momentum win in the morning foursomes – where he partnered friend Gary Hurley to a hard-fought one-hole win over Mike McCoy and Scott Harvey – and then a halved match with world number two Maverick McNealy in the singles.
Then, on the 18th, Dunne had a downhill 10-footer for birdie that stubbornly refused to drop. For a moment, he wondered if he would be upstaged, a million thoughts swirling around in his head. But McNealy then missed his own birdie putt, and the match was halved. That half point was sufficient to bring Britain and Ireland over the line. The deal was done, so to speak.
“It’s a brilliant way to end my amateur career. I guess I move on to a different world now but it is the same game. This is what I have been waiting for for the last two years, ever since the last Walker Cup, just to play this one and Nigel [Edwards] has been just really inspiring, stressing that just because we made the team that the job is not done. There is a big difference between being on a Walker Cup team and winning it,” said Dunne.
Dunne, who went into the final round of the British Open tied for the lead only to finish 30th, said: “The Open is an experience that will stand me in good stead as a pro. This was definitely the best golfing moment I have had in my life. To do it with friends, to win as a team, is so much more satisfying that to win as an individual. To win individually gives you personal satisfaction, but when being on a team makes it that much more special.”