Paul Dunne has ruled himself out of this week’s six round slog at Final Stage Q-School citing a troubling ongoing wrist injury.
The Greystones professional was expected to join his 2018 GolfSixes winning partner, Gavin Moynihan and a quartet of Irish players who had negotiated safe passage to Lumine Golf Club for a shot at 25 European Tour cards for next season.
Instead, Dunne, who narrowly missed out on retaining his full playing privileges for this season, has taken the decision to get to the root cause of a niggling injury to best prepare himself for a season of conditional status next term
In all likelihood, the 26-year old will be guaranteed around 20 starts next season, and the 2017 British Masters champion is evidently confident that such opportunity should prove enough to secure his path back to full-time playing rights on the Main Tour.
It’s a sad end to a disappointing year for Dunne who’s missed a glut of cuts, including 12 in his last 14 events. However, as far as setbacks go, Dunne is in a wonderful position to recover and with starts guaranteed next season, plus an on-course record of nearly hitting the €3 million mark in career earnings at just 26 years young and the continued support of influential sponsors like KPMG means the steady swinger will soon return to the ATM like efficiency he enjoyed over the last few years on Tour, we have no doubt about that.
Dunne’s withdrawal leaves a quintet of Irish hopefuls taking their chance at Lumine from Friday, November 15-20. Michael Hoey, Jonathan Caldwell, Robin Dawson and Niall Kearney join Moynihan for six rounds of intensely contested golf in the hopes of securing their European Tour status for next season.
In terms of European Tour titles, Hoey is one of the most successful men in the field this week. The Northern Irishman has five victories to his name – in addition to three European Challenge Tour wins – and is playing in Final Stage after navigating a mixed schedule between the European Tour and Challenge Tour in 2019. The 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Champion played 16 times on the European Tour and seven events on the Challenge Tour and finished 180th on the Race to Dubai.
Whether his experience will pay dividends in this hostile golfing environment, or whether a laissez-faire approach from the likes of a Tramore’s Dawson proves more useful, remains to be seen. What’s for sure, 842 players entered First Stage this year, a record number, with the remaining 156 players set to engage in a battle of skill and stamina over the Hills and Lakes courses at Lumine in a bid to earn one of 25 cards on offer. We wish our boys every bit of luck they need.
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