Wednesday, 05 July 2017
Paul Dunne  (Getty Images)
Paul Dunne (Getty Images)
Ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Ireland’s Paul Dunne writes about his good recent form, yoga, Gaelic football, playing on home soil and travelling the world.

Golf is a funny game. Last week was a bit of a struggle at first; I almost ran out of balls in the practice round! I was feeling a little bit lost with my game, I didn’t know where the ball was going off the tee. But my short game kept me in it the first couple of days and then every day I started to put my swing back together and find a bit of form. And then I finished strong with a 65 so it shows you the massive journey you can go on within a space of a few days. There’s no reason why it can’t keep getting better this week, too…
 
Stats can be misleading. I believe I technically had one of the best putting weeks of the season in France with just 102 putts over the week but that doesn’t tell the whole story. I missed a lot of greens over the first two days and chipped quite well, but I suppose I made a few one putts here and there to hole out and it’s always nice to see your name towards the top of a stats category either way! For the average golfer, I’d say I try to think of two things when I’m putting: one is alignment to make sure that’s always right; and two, is visualisation. If you can see out of the corner of your eye the spot where you want the ball to go, it’s like throwing a ball into a bucket or something, your arm just reacts to what it sees.

I feel really privileged to be from Ireland. This is definitely one of the biggest regular Tour events for us Irish players. It’s a huge week. We have lots of family and friends here this week, as you’d expect, and hopefully I can be there up come the business end of the tournament for them. All year we get the calls and the texts asking for tickets! But we have great support all week from the Irish fans, they’re definitely, without a doubt, the best fans in the world. They love their sport, they love supporting home talent. Hopefully I can give them something to cheer about this week!
 
Links golf is all about the weather. It can get cold, it can get windy, you can have blinding sunshine, you can have anything. It definitely won’t be a consistent week in terms of scoring. There will be some sessions that are much more scoreable than others, and some people might get a better side of the draw but you have to just take what comes at you, play what’s in front of you and stay patient. The mental side is huge in links golf.

I feel a lot more settled on the European Tour this year. In my first full year in 2016 I only had a Q-School exemption so I didn’t really know where I was going to be playing or if I’d have to play ten weeks in a row. There was a lot of uncertainty. This year is different. I know I’m going to have breaks, I can plan my practice better. One thing people would say about me is I definitely love practising!
 
We get to see some amazing places on Tour. In general I prefer to stay in cities where possible because there is more to see and do. I like experiencing different foods, going out to different restaurants – as long as it doesn’t give you food poisoning! The travel does have some downsides. The first half of the year is pretty hard on the body with the long-haul travel but the upside is getting to see some pretty cool places like Hong Kong. And then this time of year, we’re mostly in Europe with loads of amazing cities. Versailles was amazing last week, getting to experience a lot of culture there, and I love the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, too, going out on safari and seeing all the wildlife. It’s a great break from golf.

Morocco was another close call but also another important experience for me. I took a lot of confidence knowing that I led well from the front. I always knew that it was going to take a lot for someone to come from behind and it turns out someone did have that as Edoardo (Molinari) had an amazing finish. The only disappointment for me was how I played the play-off hole but that was all new to me as well so I’ll be in a better position to deal with that next time. I’m confident I’ll give myself another chance soon.
 
It was surreal exploding into world golf the way I did at St Andrews a couple of years ago. The biggest thing I took out of that whole experience, leading into the final round at The Open Championship, was knowing I had the game to compete at the top level. When you’re an amateur you’re never 100 per cent sure where your game stacks up against everyone else’s so to know I was ready, that it was the right time to do it, was huge. It wasn’t a position I ever expected to be in, but when I was, I wasn’t overly surprised and most importantly, I wasn’t overawed. It was a week that made me look at my career differently.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of yoga recently. I will often work hard in strength and conditioning and gym work over the Christmas break but of late it’s been more stretching because I’ve been dealing with a minor neck problem. It helps me get some space between my shoulders and neck and to swing a bit more freely. I’ll do a few classes when I’m at home and then the rest is YouTube in my room when I’m on the road, try to stay loose because the golf swing can take a lot of toll on your body. It’s great for the mind, too, especially if you’re annoyed about hitting a few balls in the water or something like that, it helps you chill out. Helps you sleep too!
 
I played a fair amount of football, Gaelic Football and tennis when I was younger. Team sports teach you a lot when you’re younger but everyone, when they get competitive, doesn’t necessarily want to have to rely on other people to win. Saying that, there’s nothing better than winning something as a team. One of the biggest things I got from tennis was my golf swing, funnily enough. I play everything else left handed, left footed, everything. But my tennis backhand has always been like a golf swing so I’ve always played golf right handed.
 
Going to college in Alabama was a completely different culture to experience. Saying that, you’re in your own little bubble at college. We had ten on our golf team: five local, five international so that was a nice mix and also helped with not feeling too far away from home. One of my coaches there, Alan Murray, was from the next town over from where I grew up so I knew him, he was from the same golf club as me, so to have that Irish link was great.
 
I get seriously addicted to boxsets on Netflix. I’ve just finished Homeland but I’ve seen pretty much all of them. I like to keep those for weeks when I’m by myself because I can’t trust myself. If I watched a new episode of something tonight, I wouldn’t see my friends or family all week!
 
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T4ROSE, JustinENG18-17

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