Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington in the hunt at Turkish Airlines Open

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Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington in the hunt at Turkish Airlines Open

Euro Tour

Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington in the hunt at Turkish Airlines Open

Paul Dunne broke out of a mini slump to take the first-round lead in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open over the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Antalya. A bogey-free, 7-under 64 took him to the top of the leaderboard.

The former UAB player has an all-star cast breathing down his neck. Defending champion Justin Rose, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington share second place after 6-under 65s. 

Dunne earned his first European Tour victory in October last year when he returned a final-round 61 to hold off Rory McIlroy to win the British Masters. The Irishman finished second in the Spanish Open in April, and seventh in the Volvo China Open two weeks later to signal another good year. 

He hasn’t had a top 10 since China, with a best placing of T-21 in the French Open.

“To be honest, I just haven’t been hitting the ball very well,” Dunne said. “My putting is okay. Kind of drove it the same. Lost my iron play a little bit. Stopped giving myself chances, medium to short irons. Just scrambled for par for three months really. Nice to see a bit of form, post a good score and get a bogey-free round on the card. 

“I think the biggest thing I did out there was on the three or four difficult tee shots, I hit really good tee shots. That’s what I was pleased with, the holes I needed to hit a good shot on, I stepped up and hit a really straight one.”

Rose managed a really straight one on the par-4, 4th hole. He holed his approach shot for an eagle two, the highlight of his bogey free round. 

“I didn’t drive it particularly well today but my iron play was good,” Rose said. “I holed out on number four, which got things going and I made a birdie off the back of that to get to three under through five. That was a nice stroke of fortune I guess and really started the day nicely.” 

Olesen is still buzzing from his Ryder Cup debut. He’s carried on the form that saw him finish seventh in last week’s WGC–HSBC Champions, one of seven top 10s this season that includes victory in the Italian Open. He was another not to drop a shot. 

“It was just key not to make bogeys today,” Olesen said. “The course is very scoreable when there’s no wind and the greens are pure. It was nice to have a clean card today.” 

Harrington birdied the first three holes and added another at the fifth. He dropped a shot at the seventh but threw in another three birdies to take a share of second. 

I’ve been in decent form now from mid-summer onwards,” Harrington said. “I’m a bit disappointed with some erratic putting over the past couple weeks, which had not been as bad early in the year. I’ve certainly got my head in the game and I’m working on the right things.”

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