Wicklow golfer Paul Dunne will join Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell at next month’s US Open after coming through a marathon qualifying round in Walton Heath, England.
The 24-year-old Greystones man booked his place at Erin Hills in Wisconsin on June 15-18 after 36 holes and a seven-man play-off.
With only 15 places available, Dunne finished -9 after 36 holes and in seven-way tie for 12th place, despite a 4:30am alarm call. That meant a play-off to decide the final four spots.
The first play-off hole saw England’s England’s Callum Shinkwin and Welsh amateur David Boote eliminated, and another birdie at the second hole was enough to secure Dunne his place at the US Open for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to the US Open. And I am definitely not treating it as a bonus week,” said Dunne.
“I am trying to make the top 20 in the Race to Dubai and there’s a $12m purse, so it’s a big week for me to do well and make a big dent in that goal. I am obviously going to the US Open to compete. Nobody arrives just to make up the numbers.”
“Of course, I have never played a US Open, but I want to play in all the majors so it will be a good first experience and hopefully I can do better in my first US Open than I did in my first Open when I missed the cut.”
However, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington was one of those to miss out on qualification after finishing on one-over after 36 holes. He shot 77 on the New Course and 68 on the Old.
The achievement was extra special as he’d battled through the BMW PGA Championship to finish tied-30 despite suffering from a throat infection.
The participation of McIlroy, however, remains a doubt. The 2011 US Open winner and world number two is recovering from a rib injury sustained in January.
Dunne famously led 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews after 54 holes as an amateur. He turned pro after helping GB and Ireland win the Walker Cup that year, and qualified for the Open in 2016 at Troon, but missed the cut.
Qualifiers: Aaron Rai (Eng) -14; Haotong Li (Chi) -13; Alexander Levy (Fra) -12; Richie Ramsey (Sco) -12; Oliver Bekker (SA) -11; Joel Stalter (Fra) -11; Bradley Dredge (Wal) -11; Eddie Pepperell (Eng) -11; Brandon Stone (SA) -10; George Coetzee (S Africa) -10; Andrew Johnston (Eng) -10; Paul Dunne (ROI) -9; Matt Wallace (Eng) -9; Thomas Aiken (SA) -9; Wade Ormsby (Aus) -9.