Paul Dunne is hoping to become the latest home winner of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation when he returns to the Rolex Series event, which he regards as important as any of the four Major Championships.
The Wicklow player burst onto the global golf scene in 2015 when he shared the lead heading into the final round of the British Open Golf Championship at St Andrews, and he has been living up to the billing as Ireland’s next golfing star having claimed his maiden victory in just his second season on the European Tour.
Now the 25 year old is hoping to add to his British Masters title by claiming a glorious home triumph when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – the fourth Rolex Series event of the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai – is played at Ballyliffin Golf Club for the first time from July 5-8.
Should he win in Co. Donegal, Dunne would join an illustrious list of home winners. Rory McIlroy became the eighth Irishman to claim the title when he stormed to a spectacular victory in 2016, while Shane Lowry’s emotional triumph as a young amateur in 2009 will also live long in the memory.
Two years prior to that, Pádraig Harrington had bridged a 25-year gap when he emerged victorious from a sudden-death play-off for a success which proved a pre-cursor for a famous maiden Major win at The 2007 British Open in Carnoustie.
Dunne is now determined to get his hands on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy and put his name alongside some of the greats of Irish golf:
“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is the tournament we look forward to the most. To win it would be right up there with the four Majors for me personally. I think Ballyliffin will be a great test of a venue this year. It’s always good to play in front of the home crowd and the support is always incredible. They always keep you in it and they provide a nice buzz.”
If Dunne is to earn a second European Tour, he will have to overcome a star-studded field which includes the defending Champion Jon Rahm of Spain, the tournament host McIlroy and his fellow 2016 Ryder Cup players Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick, Danny Willett and Chris Wood.