Paul Dunne shares first round lead in Open de Espana
PAUL Dunne grabbed a share of the first round lead with a six-under par 66 at the Open de Espana in Madrid on Thursday.
The Wicklow man began his round with a birdie but gave that shot back immediately. He got into positive figures again with a birdie at the par five fifth before his round really took off on the back nine. Birdie threes at the 11th, 13th and 16th were followed by an eagle at the par five 18th.
“I find the greens quite tricky to read, especially on the front nine, so it was nice to get a couple of putts to go in on the back nine and climb up the leaderboard,” Dunne, who won the British Masters last year, told Sky Sports.
Scotland's Marc Warren was the only man to match Dunne's round.
World number four Jon Rahm surprised himself with an opening 67 to lie just a shot off the lead.
Rahm, who finished fourth in the Masters on Sunday, carded an eagle, four birdies and a solitary bogey at the Centro Nacional de Golf, where he practised during his amateur days.
The 23-year-old was part of an 11-way tie for third on five-under par, which included Spanish amateur Victor Pastor.
“It feels great,” Rahm told Sky Sports. “To be honest I would have taken anything under par given the fact that I played better than I expected, especially off the tee. My long game was amazing.
“The driver alone set up two birdies today on 13 when I hit it over the green and seven where I hit it to the front edge of the green. Things like that are obviously a bonus. Hopefully I can keep hitting it tee to green the same way and make a few more putts the rest of the week.”
Asked how he was feeling following the trip across the Atlantic, Rahm added: “The morning is not as bad as the afternoon. When jet-lag kicks in after the round and adrenaline goes the afternoon is a little harder.