Paul Dunne stumbles in Spain as Jon Rahm takes the title

Irishman took a one shot lead into final day but was pegged back by the home favourite

Paul Dunne took a one shot lead into the final round of the Open de Espana but was beaten to the title by Jon Rahm. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Paul Dunne took a one shot lead into the final round of the Open de Espana but was beaten to the title by Jon Rahm. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

On the weekend of the Aintree Grand National, Paul Dunne led from the tape at the Open de Espana but stuttered in the final few furlongs as Spanish thoroughbred Jon Rahm surged past to claim a maiden professional title on home soil in his very first attempt.

After carding a 66 and a 65 in the opening two rounds Dunne had to fight hard to maintain his lead on Saturday and eventually gave in on Sunday as a closing round of 71 saw him finish in second on his own at 18 under par, his quest for a second professional win proving unsuccessful.

A cheque for €166,660 will be scant consolation although Dunne will move up both in the world rankings and the Ryder Cup points list as he heads into a three-week stretch of tournaments, beginning with the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco next week.

For Rahm, still just 23-years-old, it’s a fifth win and a second of the season in what is already a stellar career. A birdie at the Par 5 18th saw him sign for a round of 67 and a total of 20 under par to beat Dunne by two shots.

Centro Nacional de Golf was a far cry from Augusta National – where Rahm finished fourth last week – with the lush green landscape and dyed blue water of Georgia swapped for a former landfill site outside Madrid where the rough was more pockmarked with patches of green grass rather than covered in it.

But that didn’t matter to the current Irish Open champion who used to practice at the course while studying in Madrid before taking up a scholarship at the University of Arizona.

“It’s hard to describe,” Rahm told Sky Sports afterwards. “I’ve been blessed to be national champion with the Spanish Federation a number of times, European champion, world champion representing them. So to be able to win this as a pro and do it for them and the Spanish people, it feels great.

Pre-tournament favourite Rahm fired a final round 67 to take the title. Photo: Victor Lerena/EPA
Pre-tournament favourite Rahm fired a final round 67 to take the title. Photo: Victor Lerena/EPA

“It’s incredible. It’s probably by far the hardest Sunday I’ve ever had to play just with the crowds I was carrying. I saw the feeling everybody had. Everybody wanted me to win and I really felt that.

On the final day Dunne’s lead lasted just one hole as playing partner Nacho Elvira birdied to the Irishman’s par, while Rahm opened with back-to-back birdies to make it a three-way tie at 17 under.

Dunne struggled a little on the opening four holes on Saturday, saving par a number of times, and the feelings on Sunday were of déjà vu up until the fourth hole when his scrambling prowess finally took a knock as he failed to get up and down from the side of the green, slipping back to 16 under and out of the lead.

Two good shots up the hill at the Par 5 fifth, followed by a chip and a putt was enough to earn Dunne a first birdie of the round, but on a topsy turvy day Elvira had now taken sole possession of the lead after sinking a huge eagle putt to move one clear of Dunne and Rahm.

A bogey from Rahm at the ninth brought Dunne back into a tie for the lead but treading water was never going to be sufficient at a course with soft greens and little in the way of penalising rough due to water restrictions and sustainability issues which have hampered growth.

Rahm took full advantage of the Par 5 10th by chipping in for birdie to retake the lead while Dunne was cleaning up for par at the ninth to complete a front half of level par – one of only four men in the top 30 who weren’t under par.

He needed to get a move on, both on the leaderboard and on the course. On Saturday Dunne and Elvira had been warned about slow play and the sight of the Irishman and his caddie Darren Reynolds jogging between shots to speed things up was a regular occurence on Sunday after yet another warning.

A nifty up and down from a greenside bunker at the 10th gave him just his second birdie of the day and moved him alongside Rahm once again at 18 under.

However, he gave that shot back at the very next hole after a loose second shot led to a bogey. And it proved to be a double whammy as, seconds later, Rahm poured in a birdie putt at the 13th to move two clear.

Another birdie opportunity passed Dunne by on the 13th and he was starting to slip out of contention as the home fans got the Spanish battle they wanted when Elvira rolled in back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th to join Rahm at 19 under. The pair were now three clear of Dunne after the Irishman again failed to get up and down at the 14th, his race starting to look like it was run.

A three at the Par 4 15th gave Dunne some hope but missed birdie putts at the 16th and 17th allowed Rahm to shut the door with a birdie four at the last while Elvira’s chances went up in smoke after he made double bogey at the 17th.

Collated final round scores in the European Tour Open de Espana, Centro Nacional de Golf, Madrid, Spain (Britian unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72):

268 Jon Rahm (Esp) 67 68 66 67

270 Paul Dunne (Irl) 66 65 68 71

271 Nacho Elvira (Esp) 68 66 66 71

272 George Coetzee (Rsa) 72 66 71 63

273 Brett Rumford (Aus) 68 66 68 71, Marc Warren 66 69 69 69, Jorge Campillo(Esp)70 67 67 69, Henric Sturehed(Swe)67 68 66 72

274 Julien Guerrier (Fra) 67 69 74 64, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa) 69 70 66 69, Hideto Tanihara(Jpn)70 70 67 67

275 Andrew Johnston 68 68 69 70, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 69 67 69 70, (a) Victor Pastor(Esp)67 72 69 67, Sebastien Gros(Fra)73 67 71 64, Rak hyun Cho(Kor)73 64 73 65, Alejandro Canizares(Esp)72 67 70 66, Adrian Otaegui(Esp)69 70 70 66, Yusaku Miyazato(Jpn)69 68 72 66, Aaron Rai 67 71 66 71

276 Andy Sullivan 75 63 65 73, Seung-su Han (USA) 70 69 68 69, Tapio Pulkkanen(Fij)75 65 69 67, Andrea Pavan(Ita)71 67 72 66, Erik Van Rooyen(Rsa)67 71 70 68, Renato Paratore(Ita)70 70 68 68, Pablo Larrazabal(Esp)71 65 73 67

277 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 72 66 70 69, Robert Rock 70 65 71 71, Callum Shinkwin 67 67 72 71, Nicolas Colsaerts(Bel)71 67 71 68, Christiaan Bezuidenhout(Rsa)69 71 71 66, Matthias Schwab(Aut)67 71 69 70

278 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 69 68 73 68, Jeff Winther (Den) 69 67 71 71, Ashun Wu(Chn)70 70 67 71, Nino Bertasio(Ita)69 70 70 69, Richard Sterne(Rsa)68 70 72 68

279 Alexander Bjork (Swe) 67 72 68 72, David Howell 72 66 72 69, Matteo Manassero(Ita)69 71 70 69, Brandon Stone(Rsa)71 67 72 69, Jonathan Thomson 67 71 69 72, Pedro Oriol(Esp)68 71 67 73, Samuel Del Val(Esp)74 65 68 72

280 Sihwan Kim (Kor) 69 68 73 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 68 68 72 72, Pep Angles(Esp)72 66 69 73, Gregory Bourdy(Fra)70 67 71 72, Gavin Green(Mal)71 68 71 70, Marcus Fraser(Aus)71 66 71 72

281 Anthony Wall 70 70 69 72, Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 69 70 72 70, Stephen Gallacher 70 70 71 70, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez(Esp)69 71 73 68, Matthew Baldwin 70 69 71 71, Bradley Dredge 71 68 70 72

282 Jason Norris (Aus) 67 71 70 74, Bradley Neil 71 66 68 77, Darren Fichardt(Rsa)69 71 70 72, Jin-ho Choi(Kor)70 69 70 73, Marcel Schneider(Ger)76 63 72 71

283 Charlie Ford 70 69 68 76, Tom Murray 72 67 73 71, Paul Waring 68 72 76 67, Austin Connelly(Can)72 66 71 74

284 David Lipsky (USA) 69 71 75 69, Trevor Fisher Jnr (Rsa) 68 72 72 72, Graeme Storm 70 70 73 71, Jens Dantorp(Swe)73 67 74 70

285 Dean Burmester (Rsa) 73 65 71 76

286 Richie Ramsay 73 66 72 75

287 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 70 69 75 73, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 72 67 77 71

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.