Paul Dunne dazzled on day two in Spain and will take a three-shot lead into the weekend at the Open de España after firing a brilliant 65 at Centro Nacional de Golf.
Coming off the back of two top-10s across the Atlantic on the PGA Tour, the Greystones golfer recorded his lowest ever total by three shots, with 13-under the joint best 36-hole score at this event to date.
It’s put him in an excellent position to challenge for a second European Tour title after last season’s victory at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports but there are experienced winners in the chasing pack.
Home favourite Nacho Elvira, six-time European Tour winner Brett Rumford and England’s Callum Shinkwin were all at ten under, a shot clear of World Number Four Jon Rahm, two-time winner Robert Rock, three-time winner Marc Warren and Swede Henric Sturehed.
Dunne entered the day with a share of the lead and followed up his closing eagle from Thursday with birdies on the 10th, 12th and 15th. Some early low scoring had seen several players move up the leaderboard but when Dunne added another gain on the 17th, the lead was his alone again.
He led by two after a lovely chip set up a birdie on the first and while he bogeyed the second allowing Elvira into a share of top spot he pulled away again, taking advantage of the par five fifth and then holing from 12 feet on the next after recovering from a poor tee-shot.
A 15-foot right-to-left putt on the seventh extended the lead to three and while he three-putted the 17th from 18 feet, the 25-year-old ATM machine bounced back with a 20-footer on the ninth.
“It’s just one of those days,” Dunne reflected. “I went on playing, I wasn’t really thinking about the score, then the score kind of built on itself.
“The conditions were a lot better than the last couple of days and playing early I got the best of the greens so it was a pretty steady day. My game is in good shape, I’m feeling good. I see a lot of birdies around this course if the weather stays like this so hopefully I can make them.
“I think it’s been training the right way for a while and I’ve got a nice run of events here in Europe over the next few weeks as well, so I’m looking forward to that and hopefully just keep doing what I am doing.”
Four shots further adrift of the Wicklow man is local hero Rahm who started with an eagle and looked to be on the charge with birdies on the fifth and 11th but he found water with his second on the 12th and surrendered a double-bogey. He bounced straight back with a birdie and picked up another shot on the last after hitting the pin.
Englishman Rock bogeyed the third but made gains on the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 13th, 15th, 16th and last in a 65, while Sturehed was level for the day after 12 holes but finished fast with an eagle on the 13th and birdies on the 15th and 17th.
Co-overnight leader Warren signed for a 69, turning in 37 but picking up shots on the first, fourth, fifth and seventh.
Defending champion Andrew Johnston, Frenchman Julien Guerrier, German Maximilian Kieffer, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Danes Thorbjørn Olesen and Jeff Winther were at eight under.
England’s Andy Sullivan and German Marcel Schneider fired the lowest rounds of the week, carding a pair of 63s to get to six under and five under respectively.
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