The Open: amateur Dunne aims for history on day five
As The Open heads into a fifth day for the second time in history, could an amateur win for the first time since 1930?
Paul Dunne stands on the brink of history after an extraordinary day at the Open on St Andrew's on Sunday. The 22-year-old Irishman – just eight months older than two-times 2015 Major winner Jordan Spieth – leads the field alongside Australian Jason Day and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and later today could become the first amateur since American legend Bobby Jones to win the Open since 1930. In fact, the last amateur to win any major was Johnny Goodman, who clinched the US Open in 1933.
Dunne, who studied business finance at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has already broken several records after his astonishing third round on the Old Course. His six under round of 66 is the lowest 18-hole score posted by an amateur in an Open at St Andrews, while his 12-under score of 204 for the three rounds so far is the lowest posted by an amateur in the 155-year-old history of the Open.
In addition Dunne is the first amateur since Jones in 1927 to top the leaderboard going into the final round of the Open.
So all in all, an historic day on Sunday as Dunne carded a bogey-free round, continuing his excellent form in Scotland that has seen him hole 14 birdies and make just two bogeys as around him some of the sport's greats – such as Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson and Darren Clarke - failed to make the cut.
"It's surreal I'm leading The Open, but I can easily believe that I shot the three scores that I shot," said Dunne on Sunday evening. "If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn't be too surprised by the scores I shot. It's just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world."
The challenge – and what a challenge it is for the youngster – is to handle the pressure on Monday when, because of the weekend's appalling weather, the Open goes into a fifth day for only the second time in its history. Not only are Day and Oosthuizen neck and neck with Dunne, but one shot behind is Spieth while two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington is two shots behind on ten under.
"I'm well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn't play their best," replied Dunne, when asked about the test that awaits. "Whether it happens or not, I can't really control. I can just go out and try to play my game and see where it leaves me at the end of the day. Hopefully I play great again and post a good number."