McDowell backs Dunne to flourish in paid ranks
Irish amateur Paul Dunne will turn professional later this year after taking the 144th Open championship by storm and major winner Graeme McDowell believes the 22- year- old has the talent to succeed immediately.
Dunne began the final round at St Andrews in a share of the lead looking to become the first golfer from the unpaid ranks to win the Claret Jug since Bobby Jones in 1930.
A six-over-par 78 dropped him down the leaderboard to such an extent he did not even win the Silver Medal for leading amateur but, after September’s Walker Cup, Dunne will make the step up to professional.
“Certainly once the Walker Cup i s over – whether he’s selected or not – he’s going to have a go at turning professional,” said his father, Colum.
McDowell, the 2012 US Openwinnerwhoattended the same college as Dunne – theUniversityofAlabama – believes the golfer from Greystones, County Wicklow has proved he can cope with the additional pressure and demands.
“I played with him early in the week and he hit the ball very well with a technically-correct swing,” said the Northern Irishman.
“Listening to a few of his press conferences he seems like a wise old owl for someone his age.
“He seems like a really cool character. I liked his comments about being surprised to be leading an Open championship, but not surprised about the numbers he shot.
“He has that Jordan Spieth maturity to him a little bit.”
The Ryder Cup player believes that, had Dunne maintained his progress and finished strongly in the final round, he should have turned professional immediately but admits the Walker Cup is also a special event to be involved in.
“If he had a good finish I don’t know what he would have needed to have waited for the Walker Cup for,” he added.
“The Walker Cup is one of the fondest memories of my career but it means nothing as soon as you press the professional button.
“He needs starts and has an opportunity between now and the end of the season to perhaps get his European Tour card and those extra five weeks could be beneficial to him.
“It is a tough call and I’m not the guy to advise him.”
Dunne was one of five amateurs to make the cut at St Andrews meaning there was intense competition for the Silver Medal, with American Jordan Niebrugge eventually prevailing.
“When we see three amateurs within three or four shots of the lead it says it all about how good they are,” said McDowell.
“There is a belief and acceptance of competing at the top level as a youngster now – at the likes of 19, 20 and 21 years old.
“There is definitely a readiness now which was not there when I was turning pro.”