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Whitnell looking to seize his chance at Mount Juliet

Whitnell looking to seize his chance at Mount Juliet

Dale Whitnell was eager to grab his chance at Mount Juliet Estate after a second consecutive 67 left him right in the mix heading into the weekend at the 2021 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Dale Whitnell

The Englishman only made it into the field early in the week and teed it up on Thursday morning without a practice round behind him, not that that stopped him from reaching ten under after 36 holes.

The 32-year-old was part of Great Britain and Ireland's 2009 Walker Cup side but it took him 11 years to earn a full European Tour card after turning professional.

And now, he is eager to take advantage of another late entry and add to his European Challenge Tour victory at the 2019 KPMG Trophy.

"At the start of the week on Sunday I was third reserve, so I didn't know if I was even going to be here," he said.

"So I went to Open Qualifying and then flew out Wednesday morning. Didn't have a practice round and here we are. So I'm just really pleased to be here.

Didn't have a practice round and here we are. So I'm just really pleased to be here

"It has that sort of feel where you don't need to bomb it. You need to plot your way around. It's a bit like Close House where I finished fourth... not as hilly. 

"If your approach play is good and you hole a few putts, you're going to be up there."

With Whitnell proving to be a late bloomer on the European Tour, he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of countryman Richard Bland, who famously recently won his first title at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at the 478th attempt.

Since then, the 48-year-old has finished third in Denmark and held the 36 hole lead at the U.S. Open Championship but it all could have been so different had he triumphed in a play-off at this event 19 years ago.

Bland was a rookie when he narrowly missed out at Fota Island Resort but after going 69-66 over the first two days this week, he will have a chance to avenge that disappointment.

"This was almost my breakthrough tournament, how many years ago was that now?" he said.

"It's always been very special. The crowd has always been great with me. It's great to be back playing in front of crowds again. 

"I know I had a little bit a couple of weeks ago in the U.S. Open and that felt great, but to have it in Europe, and the Irish crowds are probably some of the best in the world. 

"It's a shame there's not more but it was nice having that support out there and looking forward to that this weekend."

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