In June, 22-year-old Paul Dunne was finishing his senior year at Alabama-Birmingham, where he competed in the NCAA Championships and finished fifth. On Sunday, the Irishman has a share of the 54 hole lead at The British Open. For the first time since Bobby Jones in 1927, an amateur is leading the British Open heading into the final round.
Dunne (pronounced ‘done’) was electric on Sunday. A bogey free round and six birdies was good enough for a 6-under round on The Old Course. Dunne has been ultra consistent too, carding just two bogeys in three rounds.
Dunne was the No. 1 golfer for the Blazers (Graeme McDowell’s alma mater) with a scoring average of 71.9. The Dublin native is the 80th ranked amateur in the world – let that set in for a second.
What makes Dunne’s shocking performance even cooler? His college coach is caddying for him – seriously. Dunne played four seasons for Alan Murray at UAB, and Murray is repaying him by carrying his bag all week.
“It was cool you know, I said walking down this is about the most fun as any golfer could ever have. It was great hearing my name coming from the crowd. I know so many people here it was great hearing my name,” said Dunne on what it felt like walking down 18.
“There was so much pressure on him going out and to go out and play that well today is extraordinary,” said playing partner Louis Oosthuizen, who won the British Open at St. Andrews back in 2010 and also sits at 12-under.
No matter what Paul Dunne does for the next 26 holes he is a hero and should be proud of himself.
— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) July 19, 2015
Dunne plans on turning pro this year, and is expected to join the European Tour this season. But turning professional is the last thing on Dunne’s mind at the moment.
“I dont think I have a goal tomorrow because if someone shoots 62 there’s nothing I can do. I’ll just get my game-plan ready and put a number in my head I think I need to shoot,” said Dunne on what it will take to win on Monday.
“There’s so many good players up there and there’s so many things that can happen tomorrow. The only thing that matters is where my name is at the end of tomorrow.”
Spoken like a true professional – err, we mean amateur.