Could Ireland’s Paul Dunne be about to fulfill the potential he revealed two years ago in the Open Championship at St. Andrews? We’ll find out in another 18 holes.
The former UAB player takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the $2.65 million Trophée Hassan II in Morocco after a second consecutive 4-under 69. The 23-year-old is lying at 8 under, two strokes better than Italy’s Renato Paratore, who returned a 7-under 66.
Dunne, who is chasing his first European Tour win, perhaps should have a healthier lead heading into the final round. A double bogey at the par-4 13th marred a scorecard that contained six birdies.
“I’ve been playing well recently but I haven’t played a tournament for four weeks with the break we had, so I felt like it took me a while to get going with my swing this week,” Dunne said.
“Today was a much easier round than the last couple of days. I didn’t putt as well as I did in the last couple of days but I hit the ball a lot better.
“If I break 70 again, I think it’s going to be hard for someone to catch me so I’m just going to try and do that.”
Paratore’s 66 set a new course record for the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course in Rabat. His scorecard could have been slightly better if not for also dropping a shot at the 13th.
“I played really well today, holed a lot of putts and that helped me a lot.” Paratore said.
“Everything was good and then, in the last six holes, I finished really well.
“I played really solid from the tee and the short game was really good too. I think it is probably the best round on the European Tour. It’s a nice thing for me, it’s always good to shoot a course record.”
Like Dunne, the 20-year-old Rome native is chasing his first European Tour victory.
Dunne thrilled the world of golf in the 2015 Open Championship when he became the first amateur since Bobby Jones in 1927 to hold or share the 54-hole lead. He crashed to a 6-over 78 to finish T-30 but carved out a name for himself as one to watch in future.
Dunne earned his European Tour card later that year by coming through all three stages of the European Tour Qualifying School. European golf fans have been expecting big things ever since.
Dunne kept his European Tour playing rights last year by finishing 106th on the money list. His career best finish came in this year’s Tshwane Open when he finished sixth. He’s looking to go five places better in Morocco.