Can Paul Dunne Rediscover Form In 2021: Dunne lost his card at the end of 2019, but 2021 brings hope of a rediscovery of top form.
Paul Dunne is arguably one of Ireland’s top golfers, however, his form in the last two years has slipped considerably. Dunne came to the public’s attention first as an amateur at the 2015 Open Championship.
The Wicklow talent went into the final day leading the major, breaking the 54-hole record set by an amateur golfer. Out with Louis Oosthuizen, Dunne was looking to be the first amateur to win the Open since 1927.
Unfortunately, the young twenty-three-year-old could not sustain the form needed to hold on, falling out of contention. However, Dunne became a hero back home, gaining Worldwide praise.
He turned pro that year, with his first professional win just two years later. The Irishman won the 2017 British Masters, holding off Rory Mcllroy to win by three shots. Dunne shot a final round 61 to be joint record course holder, chipping in on the final hole.
However, since 2017, Dunne’s form has somewhat capitulated. Since his triumph at Close House, his world ranking has dropped from sixty-fifth to seven hundred and forty-seventh.
The Irishman’s poor form for the next two years eventually saw him lose his European Tour status. Failing to make the cut at the Portuguese Masters at the back end of 2019 saw him lose his card.
2020 A Right Mess
With the Wicklow man losing his card, the European Q School and tournament invitations were his only options. Unfortunately, his 2019 winter training to prepare for 2020 was hampered after a bad wrist injury.
As a result, he missed the final stage of Q School and was out for a number of months. The injury was said to have occurred while practicing at home and required surgery. By the time he had recuperated, the Covid 19 pandemic had hit, leading to postponed elite sports across the World.
However, Dunne chose to see the positive side to having extra time out, stating in an interview:
“Lets’ face it, it wasn’t the worst time to get injured as everyone else was missing tournaments because of the pandemic.”
Due to the ongoing pandemic, an announcement followed in the months after that Q School for 2020 had been canceled. The event takes place from November to December across five stages, with the top twenty-five earning a tour card.
With this hardly helping matters, Dunne was now relying on invitations to recapture some lost form. However, what followed was not the case. Of nine invitations, including the Irish Open and the British Masters, saw him miss seven cuts.
The Greystones native made just two cuts with his best finishes being tied thirty-eighth and tied seventy-third position.
Can 2021 Be The Bright Spark?
Now that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror, Dunne will hope that he can fight for his card back with invitations. For the moment, it is unclear how many he will receive, but covid may help his cause.
The pandemic has restricted travel in most countries, meaning the tour will need as many players to play as possible. Last summer, many players received invitations due to higher ranked players being unable to travel to Europe from America.
Dunne has proven he can compete with the best after his Open chance and British Masters win. Recent form from Irish players such as Shane Lowry winning the Open should serve as an inspiration to the Wicklow golfer.
Dunne said recently that he is confident of joining that list of major Irish winners in the future:
“Seeing Shane win last year, coming on the back of Padraig’s three majors; Graeme doing it too, it makes the dreams more realistic, because they are guys who have come from a similar place as me and aren’t too dissimilar in terms of talent”.
“It’s not that I’m saying I’ll definitely go and win one, but who knows, I could qualify for the Open and then go on and do it”.
With Dunne yet to announce his first event of 2021, there’s no doubt he’ll be brimming with confidence. The former British Masters champion is too good not to be back on the European tour.
We will have to wait and see as the European Tour is due to commence the new season in late January. The first event will be on January 21st in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
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