Dunne leads the way for the Irish at Copenhagen Challenge

Mark McGowan

Paul Dunne (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

A two-under round of 70 sees Paul Dunne occupy a top-10 berth after day one at the Copenhagen Challenge presented by Ejner Hessel, three off the early pace being set by Julien Suri.

After enduring a difficult start to his 2023 campaign, hopes that Dunne was beginning to turn the corner received a significant boost as he put together matching one-under nines on a tough day for scoring. Birdies at one and three made for an ideal start, and though he’d drop a stroke at the sixth, he’d add two more birdies at 12 and 14 to reach -3 for the day.

A closing bogey-six will have left a slightly sour taste in the Greystones man’s mouth, however, though he’s well positioned for a second weekend appearance in this his fifth Challenge Tour start in 2023.


Dermot McElroy is next best of the Irish contingent at level-par. The Ballymena man made six birdies in his opening round, but two bogeys and two doubles would prove costly as he’d end the day in a tie for 33rd.

Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan is making just his second Challenge Tour start this year, and he lies T52 at +1 after a round that included an eagle-three at the 18th, and he’s two ahead of Niall Kearney who has work to do to make the 36-hole cut, as has Jonathan Caldwell after the Clandeboye man shot a six-over 78. Sadly for Conor Purcell, an opening 10-over round means that he’ll need to do something extra special if he’s to earn a weekend tee time.

American Suri, making his second start of the season on the European Challenge Tour, started his round from the tenth and carded a bogey-free front nine, with a birdie on his opening hole before a birdie-eagle finish ahead of the turn.

The 32-year-old’s only dropped shot came on the back nine at the second hole, but further gains at the third and fifth saw the former DP World Tour winner sign for an impressive round of 67.

“I feel like I’m trending in the right direction, and I’ve just got to be as consistent as I can over a four-day span,” Suri said.

“I had the win here in Denmark in 2017 and I was reminded recently that I was in the final group of a Challenge Tour event in Denmark back in that year as well. I always enjoy coming back here, the people are super nice and it’s nice to see some sun.

“Last week was a good experience for me. It was my first four days in-a-row and my first cut made since the French Open last year which was in September, so nine months ago. It was nice to get four rounds going and get in the swing of things from Thursday to Sunday.”

With winds gusting throughout the morning and picking up in the afternoon, Suri’s morning score could not be topped. Alexander George Frances leads the charge for Denmark and is a shot behind Suri at four under par joined by Englishman Jack Senior, while six players lie a further stroke back at three under par.


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