Defending champ Paul Dunne will be looking to bloom in playing alongside tournament host Justin Rose for the opening two rounds of the Sky Sports British Masters. Paul Dunne / Image from Getty Images Rose is hosting the event being staged on the famed Walton Heath course that is a former European Open venue and, since 2005, the Surrey gem has also staged a U.S. Open qualifier. Rose is returning to competition for a first occasion since playing his part in Europe’s stunning seven-point Ryder Cup success and in his first ‘regular’ tournament since capturing the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup crown. The 2013 US Open winner and 2016 Olympic Games Gold medallist has won four times in the past 12 months and in four different countries while also enjoying seven other top-5s around the golfing globe. In contrast, Dunne is coming off missing the cut in last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and also sat out the weekend rounds for a fourth occasion in his past five events. Dunne has also slipped to 51st on the Race to Dubai and 98th on the World Rankings. A year ago, Dunne brilliantly chipped-in for birdie at the 72nd hole to deny Rory McIlroy and take a huge jump on the Rankings with the Greystones golfer picking-up 100 spots to go to 88th in the world. A second place earlier this year behind Jon Rahm in the Spanish Open saw Dunne move to a then career high of No. 68 while he peaked on the World Rankings at No. 65 in sharing seventh in the Volvo China Open. And while it has been slow slide down the rankings for Dunne there is nothing like thoughts of again winning on British soil to kick-start Dunne’s challenge. “I’d love it. I’d love to keep hold of any trophy to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m just continuing to work on my things and hopefully it sparks up this week and I can get some good mojo going.”
“Anytime an Irishman can win on British soil is a good thing. We had quite a lot there the last day last year, as well. Obviously with this being so close to London, I’m assuming a lot of people will turn up, so hopefully I can give them something to cheer about, especially since Paddy (Harrington) is in the field.”
“It’s a course that I know relatively well. I’ve played a few amateur events here, the US Open qualifying. I know they’ve moved the course around a little bit but it’s a course I like.” “I’ve obviously got a great pairing with Justin (Rose) and Matt (Fitzpatrick), so hopefully I can rekindle a little bit of form like I did last year and do it again.” The 25-year old Dunne believes also he played the best golf of his career in that spell in the spring and summer and is looking to recreate that magic in Surrey. “I think I had probably a struggle at the start of the season and then I had three months in the middle where I played the best golf I’ve played ever,” he said. “I’ve fallen away since then and I’m just trying to find those little touches that kind of put you back up because it’s fine margins, you know. I’m not too far away. Hopefully I can find a bit of that what I had in April and May.” And to spice-up this week’s event organisers are providing the sequel to ‘Moliwood’ with Ryder Cup winning heroes Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood playing alongside each other for the first two rounds. Joining the Versailles victory duo is winning team-mate Thorbjorn Olesen. IRISH TEE TIMES Paul Dunne – 8.20am Padraig Harrington – 8.30am Shane Lowry – 12.55pm
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