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Dunne facing last chance saloon in Portugal

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Who could forget the image of Jordan Spieth way right, deep into the dunes, faced with an unplayable lie, his procession towards a first Open Championship in serious jeopardy

Paul Dunne is not the first to breast the bar at golf’s ‘Last Chance Saloon’ and he will not be the last.

For the Greystones golfer, it has come down to a last event of the year if he’s to retain full 2020 European Tour membership.

This week’s Portugal Masters on the Dom Pedro Victoria course at Vilamoura marks the end of a two-year Tour exemption earned for brilliantly capturing the 2017 British Masters.

It should not come to this for the ultra-talented Greystones golfer who we vividly recall made the golf world sit-up and take notice in sharing the lead with a round to play heading into golf’s oldest major at St. Andrews.

Dunne did that again two-years and three-months later in upstaging Rory McIlroy by posting a closing day 61 to shut down the then World No. 8 at Close House.

What also compounds Dunne’s predicament is his disappointing downturn in form this 2019 season that’s seen him also drop to 118th on the Race to Dubai.

Dunne went to last week’s Open de France one spot inside the ‘magical’ 117th cut-off mark to retain Tour membership but after missing a fifth halfway cut in succession, and a 14th weekend off in 23 starts, he slipped two places to 118th on the Race to Dubai.

That’s one place outside of retaining full membership for next year at the close of this week’s Portugal event.

And if Dunne is going to retain his Tour card, he’s going to first make the Victoria Course cut and probably get himself inside the top-50 at the tournament’s end.

If so, it should be good enough for Dunne to move back into the top-117th and be guaranteed a full playing schedule in 2020.

That’s the simple scenario!

Compounding Dunne’s plight is that, with the exception of two or three, every player ranked from No. 119 to Gavin Moynihan at 140th is also in the Portugal Masters field.

And each one, including Moynihan who secured a best Tour finish last Sunday in sharing fifth place in Versailles, will be looking to go past Dunne and the man with the biggest target on his back, the 117th ranked Englishman Jack Singh Brar.

Much in the same boat, Gavin Moynihan, after a career-best of 5th in last week’s Open de France, likely needs a top-3 this week to also retain his Tour card.

Joining the pair is former Portugal Masters winner, Padraig Harrington who captured his now haul of 31 worldwide victories in winning the 2016 title.

And Michael Hoey will look to make the most of his chances in being the very last into the Euro 1.5m event.

IRISH TEE TIMES …(Irish time)

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Graeme McDowell – 4.40am

Shane Lowry – 5.30am

Rory McIlroy – 5.40am

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Paul Dunne – 9.10am

Gavin Moynihan – 12.30pm

Michael Hoey – 12.40pm

Padraig Harrington – 1.30pm

 

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