The Irishman starred at this year's Open Championship, having been tied for the lead heading into the final day. Ross Biddiscombe tells us how he's faring at Q School.
Dunne played at St Andrews in July as an amateur fresh in readiness for the Walker Cup with all the potential that his mentors, family and friends had been talking about for several seasons. On the final day, Dunne was in the lead and in the final group with Louis Oosthuizen in an unsuccessful pursuit of the claret jug. He eventually finished tied 30th after a hugely disappointing 78, but the plaudits kept coming.
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But today, Dunne will play the final round of the Second Stage of Q School with the real possibility that his nascent career as a professional will stall at the first significant hurdle. After 54 holes at Lumine in southern Spain, Dunne was one shot out of top 20 positions that would progress through to Final Stage later this month.
No Final Stage means no Tour Card for the 2016 European Tour season, which means a possible season of a few invites and mostly mini tours for a player who is forecast to be one of the best young pros of the last few years.
By contrast, two fellow ex-amateurs who played Walker Cup this autumn are doing fine at Second Stage. 21-year-old Jimmy Mullen is leading one of the other three Second Stage tournaments at El Saler. while Ashley Chesters is well placed (tied 6th) in Panoramica.
Dunne, however, is tied 25th after three days on 6 under and eight shots behind the leaders, two Englishmen Daniel Gavins and Mike Wallace. If the Irishman makes it through from this position, it will be proof of his steely professional character. If not, then it could be 12 months in the wilderness.
Meanwhile, at the fourth Second Stage event at Las Colinas, two more Brits, Jamie Elson and Sam Hutsby, are on the bubble and will need an under par round on day four to guarantee a place at Final Stage. As usual, Q School is sorting the men from the boys.
Ross Biddiscombe is author of Cruel School: The 40th Anniversary of Golf’s European Tour Q School. This book will be available in hardback and eBook formats from mid-December. For more details, go to www.golfontheedge.co.uk