Paul Dunne was delighted to make his first weekend cut since last August but insists he has no expectations ahead of the weekend rounds of the Austrian Open.
The Greystones golfer, whose suffered with his form for the best part of two years having burst onto the European Tour when winning the 2017 British Masters, posted a one-under par 71 to add to his opening 73 to advance to the weekend at even par.
Now just outside the top-30 at an icy Diamond Country Club, Dunne was disappointed to bogey his closing hole of the day but only trails Spaniard Alejandro Canizares by seven strokes at the halfway stage in Atzenbrugg.
“It was a basic up and down which I missed which is a shame because I scrambled really well all day but I’m happy with level after two rounds. It’s been a while since I made a cut so at least I’m playing on the weekend,” Dunne laughed.
“It’s always been a strong part of my game [short-game] but I’m surprised how sharp it is given how little I’ve done over the last few weeks. At home I’ve hit a few balls but the courses haven’t been open to do short-game practice so I’m happy enough. I have a lot of work to do on the long-game as always but happy to be battling for two more days.”
Dunne hasn’t been seen on a European Tour fairway since missing the cut at last month’s Qatar Masters. He only competed once this year prior to that in Saudi and pulled out of the recent double-header in Kenya. Form has been an issue, but so too have playing opportunities due to Covid-19 while when opportunities did arrive, Dunne had been dogged by a niggling wrist injury that still requires physio to this day.
“I took a bit of time at home after Qatar,” he explained. “I was at home for maybe five weeks but I’m going to play this run of events – maybe five tournaments in total and get back in the swing of things. Kenya just came at a bad time for me. I had other things that I had to take care of but I’m back with a focus now. It’s been so long since I’ve played a run of events. I’ve only played a handful of tournaments over the past 18 months so to get back in the rhythm of playing every week is the next step.”
“The wrist is good. I need little bits of physio here or there but I can do whatever I want with it. This week is a good test for it because it’s so cold. A few months ago I would’ve struggled practicing in Ireland in the cold so good signs.”
Although now just seven shots back of the leader, Dunne admits he holds little expectation ahead of the weekend. Far from eyeing a dream quick-fix having lost his full playing rights to the Tour in 2019, the 28-year old accepts he’s on a journey, one of small steps and milestones that he hopes will one day return him to the very top of the game.
“The longer you stay away from competition the harder it is to get back into it,” he added. “It’s a funny old time for everyone. To be honest, I’ve no real goals or expectations at the minute. I suppose one is that I want to get back enjoying playing again. Two is that I want to get back feeling like I’m sharp enough to play day-in, day-out with a card in my hand and get some consistency back, and get used to feeling that pressure again.
“Outside of that, performance-wise, I’ve no goals or expectations, good or bad. I just want to finish this stretch of events feeling like I’m in a better place to deal with the rest of the season.”
Also through to the weekend is Dunne’s Walker Cup teammate Cormac Sharvin who carded a one-under par round of 71 to move 24 places up the leaderboard and inside the top-50 at two-over. Gavin Moynihan (+8) and Jonathan Caldwell (+9) missed out on the three-over par halfway cut-mark.
- Full scoring HERE