Dunne looks to emulate Bobby Jones at The Open
Paul Dunne, a 22-year-old amateur from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, went around the Old Course at St Andrews in record-breaking form yesterday, and launched himself into a share of the third-round lead in the 2015 British Open.
Dunne’s third-round score of 66, six under par, sets a new amateur scoring record for British Open third rounds, and his 54-hole total of 204, 12 under par, smashes the Open’s amateur 54-hole record by six shots – the old record of 210 had stood for 22 years.
“It’s surreal I’m leading The Open,” said Dunne, a graduate of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “If we were playing an amateur event here I wouldn’t be too surprised by the scores I shot. It’s just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world.”
The last amateur to win the British Open was Bobby Jones at Royal Liverpool in 1930. It would be remarkable for Dunne to hold his form and nerve and defeat a world-class professional field to lift the Claret Jug, but he is also vying for the Open’s silver medal for the leading amateur, and Dunne has a three-shot lead over Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge, 21, in that race.
“To go out there and be leading the tournament, you can’t take that away from him ever,” said fellow-Dubliner Padraig Harrington, the British Open champion in 2007 and 2008, who sits two shots off the lead going into the final round. “He’s led the Open as an amateur. That is as rare as it comes.
“If I don’t win, I hope he does and it is certainly not beyond belief to see him continue and win it from here.”
Jordan Spieth, twice a U.S. Junior Amateur champion, also said he was not surprised to see an amateur at the top of the leaderboard.
“There will be an amateur who wins a PGA Tour event, possibly even a major, I think, at some point over the next decade or so,” Spieth said. “The amateur game has changed to be more like professional golf in that there are more tournaments, better golf courses, harder courses and better competition. That’s how I felt playing amateur golf. There’s just no fear and I think it’s awesome.
“We certainly expect [Dunne and Niebrugge] to make a run tomorrow and I don’t expect them to really fall off at all.”
Wearing the same cap and clothing line as Spieth, and with a similar build, Dunne has endured fans at the Open mistaking him for Spieth, only for him look up and see disappointed faces when they realize the mistake. If he can emulate Jones and win the Open, Dunne won’t need to worry about mistaken identity any more.