Post-victory orders put Paul Dunne’s patience to the test
Irish golfer hardly collected trophy before he was asked to recreate winning chip
The headlines will, not unreasonably, focus on the rather exquisite quality of Paul Dunne’s final round of 61 at the British Masters. And the fact that he held off, of all people, Rory McIlroy to win his first European Tour title, finishing up with a chip on the 18th that you’d struggle to recreate on your PlayStation, never mind on Tyneside in October when Rory’s looking on and licking his lips in anticipation of a play-off should it all go horribly wrong.
But it could be argued that Dunne’s finest achievement on Sunday was actually him resisting what surely must have been an overwhelming temptation to break his putter over Tim Barter’s head.
He’d hardly collected his trophy when Tim took him back to the edge of the 18th and requested a live “Sky Masterclass” in which Paul was asked to recreate said chip.
“Tell us what’s going through your mind,” Tim asked.
“Well, I’m thinking I’ve just had my maiden European Tour win, I’m feeling pretty tired, it’s been a really long day, I’d love a sit-down, a pint and maybe something to eat, and it’d be nice too if I could get to meet up with my family and friends after what has been an incredibly special day,” he didn’t say, because he’s far too polite.
Instead – and we’re defining the meaning of stoicism here – Paul obliged when Tim asked him to try to recreate that chip, the fella coming close enough to replicating it.
Possibly hoping his Masterclass was done, Paul was then asked by Tim to recreate his birdie putt on the 17th.
By now Paul would have been wishing he had finished runner-up to Rory.
He missed with his first two efforts, at which point a cry went up from the stand behind him from an exuberant Irish gentleman, who may or may not have imbibed some alcohol, telling Paul not to worry because he already had half a million pounds in his back pocket.
Paul smiled. And tried again. Third time lucky.
“Ole, ole, ole, ole - ole, ole,” crooned the gentleman, his buddies acting as backing singers. Paul smiled again, but most likely fretted that the bar had already been drunk dry, so there’d be no celebratory pint.
Mercifully, Tim then released Paul from his post-victory duties, Sky about to turn their focus on the final day of the Presidents Cup where it was all to play for, the US holding a wafer-thin 14.5 to 3.5 lead over their International rivals going in to D-Day.
Back at Tyneside, Sky gave us one last glimpse of their hole-cam at the 18th, replaying the moment Paul’s fingers descended in to it to retrieve his ball, lovingly tapping the flag pole for assisting his chip-in.
Generally, though, hole-cam was a little frightening, especially when, say, you saw a decidedly grumpy Ian Poulter, who’d battled mobile phones not switched to silent all weekend, rummage around the hole for his ball, before tossing it at his caddy in a “let’s get the **** outta here” kind of way.
Shane Lowry’s hole-cam was less aggressive, him finishing seventh and therefore reasonably happy with his weekend’s work. And if you didn’t already have enough love for the man, his celebrations when Paul’s chip disappeared in to that 18th hole were a very lovely thing, him punching the air so hard it could no longer breathe.
And then he awarded a grizzly of a bear hug to our victor, which might have left Paul gasping as hard as Sky when they didn’t get their play-off. If Paul had a pound for how many times they told us that Rory was breathing down his neck and was inevitably going to snare him, he’d have matched his winner’s cheque.
Glancing at the final leaderboard called to mind a seemingly logical suggestion by RTE’s Joe Stack late Friday afternoon when a certain town was perched once again atop the world championship medal table, leaving the entire rowing planet in its literal wake.
“There’s talk of splitting up Dublin in the Championship because they’re so strong,” he said, “they might have to split Skibbereen in to north and south Lisheen.”
Neville Maxwell and Sinead Jennings didn’t entirely dismiss the proposal, but all you could anticipate was world rowing becoming a contest between two halves of Lisheen to the exclusion of everyone else. A bit like the British Masters ending up being a battle between two bits of Ireland, Paul’s and Rory’s, everyone else an also-ran. Oars or putters, we just have to deal with it, on that week at least, we were the master race.