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Open run helps Dunne land sponsor invite into Torrey

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SAN DIEGO – Paul Dunne’s historic run at last year's Open Championship created a few more playing opportunities in the States.

Sure, the 23-year-old Irishman went on to earn his European Tour card through Q-School, but he also received sponsor exemptions into two PGA Tour events, including this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, where he will make his Tour debut. 

“Without my play in the Open Championship,” he said Tuesday, “I probably wouldn’t have these.”

At St. Andrews, Dunne shared the 54-hole lead and was looking to become the first amateur to win the Open since 1930. He came unraveled while playing in the final group on Sunday, shooting 78 and tying for 30th

Many expected Dunne to turn pro immediately, but he remained amateur through the Walker Cup, helping the Great Britain and Ireland team hand the Americans their worst-ever loss in the biennial matches.

His experience at the Open served him well at Q-School, where he found himself three shots inside the number with one round to play.

“Since the Open Championship I’ve just felt more comfortable in situations that I would have got nervous in previously,” he said. “I don’t know exactly why that is, but I guess it’s being exposed to a big atmosphere, a lot of pressure. Nothing else seems quite as bad.”

Dunne, who graduated from UAB last spring, will also tee it up in a few weeks at Pebble Beach. Because of his status as a Q-School graduate, he can't get into any of the European Tour's Desert Swing events.

“Obviously the goal for me would be to end up on the PGA Tour,” he said. “So any exposure I can get to that early is great.”