A year on from his play-off defeat to Edoardo Molinari, Ireland’s Paul Dunne has set his sights on going one better in 2018 as the European Tour returns to Morocco for the Trophée Hassan II from April 19-22.
Five months before securing his first European Tour title at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports, the Irishman came agonisingly close to a breakthrough at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, in Rabat, which hosts the tournament again this year.
Dunne was already enjoying his best season on the European Tour since joining in 2014, having recorded his best finish in more than 30 starts at the Tshwane Open in March when he finished in a share of sixth place in South Africa.
Just two events later, at Trophée Hassan II, Dunne was the 54 hole leader on eight under par, but in the final round, Molinari carded a five under par back nine, including an eagle on the 18th hole, to take sole possession of first place.
After dropping a shot on the 16th hole, Dunne needed to birdie the last to force a play-off. He demonstrated the superb short game which would subsequently help clinch the British Masters title as he chipped on from the fringe and then converted from five feet to tie the former Ryder Cup player.
Molinari then emerged victorious on the first extra hole at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, but Dunne admits he benefited from the play-off experience.
“Coming second to Edoardo at last year’s Trophée Hassan II was a huge learning experience for me,” said Dunne. “Although it was disappointing to miss out on the opportunity to win my first title, it gave me the drive to succeed last season. It was my best finish on the European Tour at that time.
“It made me more determined to secure my first victory, which I thankfully did later in the year. I would love to return to Morocco and go one better this season.
“It’s a fantastic event, and I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that have been made to the golf course.”
Dunne is joined in the field by Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who selected the Irishman in Europe’s 2018 EurAsia Cup team. France’s Alexander Levy, who also earned a call-up to the EurAsia Cup squad is also in the field.