Paul Dunne maintains his fine form to share Links lead
PAUL Dunne is feeling good about life after maintaining his superb recent form with an impressive start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Irishman, who secured a maiden European Tour title at last week's British Masters, shot a five-under-par 67 at St Andrews to end the opening day in a share of the lead with Nicolas Colsaerts.
Belgium's Colsaerts, whose score represented a good recovery after a double bogey seven on his third hole, played his first round of the three-course event at Kingsbarns.
Dunne told Sky Sports: "My game still feels good. I stood up on the first and I was still confident in my swing. It takes that bit of pressure off when you've done it once.
"It was a disappointing finish, but, in general, all things feel good and life is pretty good at the minute."
The 24-year-old shone on his front nine over the Old Course. He made birdie at the third and sixth and then holed from 22 feet for eagle at the ninth.
Further birdies followed at the 11th and 14th and, although there was a slip at the 17th - the notoriously difficult Road Hole - and a missed opportunity at the last, his round was still an accomplished one.
It made for a happy return to the 'Home of Golf', the scene of his impressive showing at the Open as an amateur in 2015.
On that occasion Dunne held a share of the lead after three rounds, but eventually fell away to finish in a tie for 30th. He now has mixed feelings about that championship.
He said: "I think the Open was a great thing for me. It opened so many doors for sponsors and invites when I turned pro.
"But, also, how many times are you going to lead the Open at St Andrews with one round to go? It was a situation I wasn't used to at the time and it might have overwhelmed me.
"It was one that slipped away, but something that set up my professional career as well."
Colsaerts recovered from his poor third hole by claiming birdies at four of the next five holes. Three more birdies on the back nine, including the 17th and 18th, made for a strong finish.
Five players were in a tie for third at four under, including defending champion Tyrell Hatton, fellow Englishman Oliver Fisher and Ireland's Shane Lowry. They also began their tournament at St Andrews.
Ten players were on three under, including England's Ben Evans and Scot David Drysdale, who recorded the best scores at the third course being used, Carnoustie, along with Joakim Lagergren.
World number six Rory McIlroy - who was playing alongside his father Gerry in the concurrent pro-am competition - ended the day one over after shooting 73 at St Andrews.
McIlroy was three over at one point, but finished with birdies at the 14th and 18th. It might have been better had eagle putts at the ninth and 18th rolled in.
Collated first round scores in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship,
Kingsbarns, Scotland (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):
67 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel)
68 Joel Stalter (Fra)
69 Marcel Siem (Ger)
70 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Gavin Moynihan, Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Luca Cianchetti (Ita), Scott Jamieson, Nino Bertasio (Ita)
71 Marcus Armitage, Richie Ramsay, Alvaro Quiros (Spa), Peter Hanson (Swe) Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Paul Lawrie, Nacho Elvira (Spa), Scott Gregory
72 S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind), Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Pep Angles (Spa), Stuart Manley, Gary Stal (Fra), Liam Johnston, Stephen Gallacher, Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Soomin Lee (Kor)
73 Anthony Michael (Rsa), Jorge Campillo (Spa), Andrew Dodt (Aus), Brett Rumford (Aus), Niclas Fasth (Swe), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Alexander Knappe (Ger), Adrian Otaegui (Spa)
74 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Felipe Aguilar (Chl), Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha), Jose-Filipe Lima (Prt), Eduardo De La Riva (Spa)
75 Sam Walker, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha), Grant Forrest, Paul Peterson (USA)
76 Sebastien Gros (Fra), Nathan Kimsey
78 Ashun Wu (Chn), Matthew Southgate, Johan Carlsson (Swe)
79 Florian Fritsch (Ger)
82 Duncan Stewart
St Andrews, Scotland (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):
67 Paul Dunne
68 Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Ryan Fox (Nzl), Oliver Fisher
69 Matt Wallace, Graeme McDowell, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Romain Langasque (Fra) Benjamin Hebert (Fra), George Coetzee (Rsa)
70 Rhein Gibson (Aus), Branden Grace (Rsa), Aaron Rai, Tommy Fleetwood Jamie Donaldson, Luke Donald, Jordan Smith, Aron Price (Aus), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Thomas Detry (Bel)
71 Lasse Jensen (Den), Ross Fisher, Brandon Stone (Rsa), Ashley Chesters, Zander Lombard (Rsa), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Carlos Pigem (Spa), Lee Westwood, Julien Quesne (Fra)
72 Jason Scrivener (Aus), Daniel Brooks, Damien Perrier (Fra), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), David Howell, Padraig Harrington, Richard Sterne (Rsa)
73 Richard Bland, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Paul Waring, Rory McIlroy, J.B. Holmes (USA), Brett Quigley (USA), Alfie Plant, Matthew Fitzpatrick
74 Chris Hanson, Ernie Els (Rsa), Andrew Evans (Aus), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Justin Walters (Rsa), Chris Paisley
75 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Nathan Holman (Aus)
76 Daniel Im (USA), Patrick Newcomb (USA)
81 Austin Connelly (Can)
Carnoustie, Scotland (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):
69 Ben Evans, David Drysdale, Joakim Lagergren (Swe)
70 Oliver Bekker (Rsa), Alexander Levy (Fra), Marc Warren, Romain Wattel (Fra), Joost Luiten (Ned), Bradley Dredge, Gregory Havret (Fra)
71 Ricardo Gouveia (Prt), Jens Fahrbring (Swe), Jaco Ahlers (Rsa),Jack Davidson, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), James Morrison, Robert Rock, Sam Brazel (Aus)
72 Julian Suri (USA), Laurie Canter, Connor Syme, Eddie Pepperell, Cliff Kresge (USA)
73 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Ulrich Van Den Berg (Rsa), Matthew Giles (Aus), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa), Lee Slattery, Anthony Wall, Scott Hend (Aus), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Edoardo Molinari (Ita)
74 Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Magnus A Carlsson (Swe), Anders Hansen (Den), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Matteo Manassero (Ita), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Marcus Fraser (Aus)
75 David Horsey, Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Stephen Leaney (Aus), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Graeme Storm, Ashley Hall (Aus)
76 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Callum Shinkwin, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa)
77 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Tom Lewis, Renato Paratore (Ita)
78 Stuart Appleby (Aus)
79 Jack Singh Brar
80 Todd Sinnott (Aus)
82 Simon Dyson