Dunne turning over a new leaf ahead of Wentworth test

Peter Finnan

Paul Dunne (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Peter Finnan

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Paul Dunne believes his game is trending close ahead of this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey.

The Greystones professional has endured his first uneasy season on the European Tour since graduating to the pro ranks as a plus-five handicapper in 2015.

It’s been a frustrating campaign for Dunne who missed cuts over the summer at both the Irish Open at Lahinch and the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club before taking a break from competitive play.

Since returning, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Wicklow man, however he’s seen enough in his play, including a 68 on Sunday for a top-30 finish at the KLM Open, to feel encouraged ahead of the season run-in where opportunity abounds.

“It feels like the tail end of the year but there’s also so many events left and I had a little break after the Scottish Open so it kind of feels like I’m almost just getting started again,” Dunne said.

“The game’s starting to feel good. I played better last week in Amsterdam. I’m starting to see consistency in my ball-striking and my short game is really good so I’m hoping to put it all together this week.”

It’s been a tedious process for Dunne who has amassed €247,354 from 18 starts this season on Tour. That might seem passable for the ordinary Joe, but for a man heralded as an ATM machine for a run of results that included pipping Rory McIlroy to the post at the 2017 British Masters, it’s a scant return that sees him in 101st place on the Race to Dubai table.

Far from pushing the panic button just yet, however, Dunne is overseeing a welcomed return of two-way shot shaping that might just launch a late season bid at the upper reaches of the points table.

“I’ve been working on the same stuff but it just hasn’t been working and I guess that’s just the way the game is,” Dunne added.

“The last two to three weeks, I’ve started to see a shift in that what I’ve been working on for the last three months is starting to actually come in when I just hit normal shots.

“I’m starting to see the ability to shape the ball both ways again because everything was very much all left to right for me for the whole year. I’m starting to turn over iron shots again which makes it easier to hit at left pins.

“I feel like every week it’s going to get gradually better as long as I don’t wear myself out, so hopefully I can have a strong finish to the season and get into Dubai.

“I’m a bit further down than I’d want to be but the golf’s in there. Everyone has seasons like that but you never know – have a few good weeks and it could turn into a career season. I’ll just try to keep putting the work in and the results will come when they come but as long as I can feel like I’m making steady progression, then I’ll be happy.”

As for this week’s test, Dunne returns to the leafy and luscious grounds of Wentworth with a best of tied-30th finish in 2017. After missing the cut last year, he admits it’s a course that at times, challenges his eye but Dunne believes that if he can implement his strategy, Surrey could be a happy hunting ground yet.

“There’s a couple of holes here I find a bit tricky,” Dunne confessed. “I’ve always struggled on 17 because you’ve got to turn the second shot over with the ball beneath your feet. Holes like that I just want to give myself a wedge in because my wedge game is good.

“If I can just get myself within 80 yards in the middle of the fairways on the back nine, I feel like I’ll make birdie over half the time so that’s kind of the key for me.

“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, keeping the rhythms that I’m working on and not get too far ahead of myself. There’s always an element of luck in there too but hopefully I can put four solid rounds together and that should be a success.”

Dunne gets his championship bid underway at 13.40 on Thursday alongside Alexander Bjork and Joost Luiten.


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