Former amateur talents setting professional pace in France

9/5/2013 7:01:00 PM
Alan Dunbar   (Getty Images)
Alan Dunbar (Getty Images)
By Nick Totten for
From Pléneuf

Three players are tied at the top at the Open Blue Green Côtes d'Armor Bretagne as Alan Dunbar, Moritz Lampert and Jamie McLeary all fired four under par rounds of 66 to lead in France.

After a four hour fog delay at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André, the leading trio came out firing to lead by one after 18 holes, with half of the field still to finish their first round.

Former British Amateur Champion, Dunbar, was the first to post the leading mark after a round with four birdies and not a single dropped shot.

It is a fine start for the Northern Irishman who has only been a professional for four months, and has had mixed fortunes so far, splitting his time between both the Challenge and European Tours in 2013.

“I’m not sure why I’ve played better on The European Tour this year,” explained Dunbar. “I’ve played well on this Tour too, but the cuts I have missed have only been by a shot. I’ve been playing well all year, just not getting the breaks, and I had a nice run there in July on the main Tour, but it is just about getting those breaks. I’ve been playing well all year and hopefully I can finish on a high.

“The standard at the top is very similar, and I’ve only been a pro for four months, so I hope this is just the start of a long career. I was a bit more aggressive today off a few tees, and I think that is what I have struggled with when only missing the cut by a shot, being a bit too negative, and being more aggressive today seemed to work.”

Another man who has tasted amateur success is Lampert, winning national championships in France, Germany and Portugal during an illustrious career that also saw him feature in The Junior Ryder Cup in 2010.

The German, like Dunbar, has played on both Tours this season having earned his European Tour card at last year’s Qualifying School Final Stage, and after some good work with his coach he is excited to be playing well again, even after a double bogey at his first hole today.

He said: “It really is a great course here, you have to watch out as there is a lot of trouble, but once you get it in the fairway you have a lot of chances, and the greens are good so you can make a lot of putts.

“I’ve got my coach on the bag this week, and we did a lot of work two weeks ago before Gleneagles, and I played well there before a bogey at the last to miss the cut by one. I kind of lost my game last week in Wales, so we decided to have him back on the bag this week.

“We did a lot of good work the last two days, so my game feels good. We are having fun, and that’s the most important thing for me, to have someone to talk to, not only about golf, but someone you can spend a lot of time together with. And we are good friends, so I like that.”

On the same mark as Dunbar and Lampert is McLeary, himself a top ranked amateur before turning professional. The Scot countered a double bogey on the front nine with six birdies en route to an excellent score of four under par on Thursday.

“It is a very different course than what we are used to, visually it is very different,” said McLeary. “Off the tee it is very narrow, and into the greens there are little pockets that you need to play to, and judging your distance and trajectory with your wedges is tricky.

“I fully expect this form to continue though, because things have been going well and I don’t feel like I will lose it over the next couple of weeks.  When you are in control of your game you feel like you can go out there and compete, so I’m looking forward to the big events coming up, but stick a win in here and you don’t have to worry about Kazakhstan.”

The strong amateur theme continued for many of those just a shot adrift at three under par in France, with the likes of former US Amateur Champion Byeong-hun An alongside Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge winner Brinson Paolini, who was a decorated college golfer at home in America.

They are joined by Wallace Booth, a member of the 2009 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup Team, on the weekend of the 44th match to be held at the National Golf Links of America.

Also on the same mark is one of two leading Frenchman, Victor Riu, who won for the first time earlier in the year at the Karnten Golf Open presented by Mazda. He is alongside compatriot, and three time Challenge Tour champion, Benjamin Hebert on three under par.