Paul Dunne burst onto the scene as an amateur when he was the 54-hole leader at the 2015 British Open. Since then, he’s earned his European tour card and played in two PGA Tour events this season on a sponsor’s exemption. Dunne took the time to speak to GOLF.com before a practice round at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and gave an overview of how his life has changed since last summer.
This will be your third PGA Tour event in 2016. What have you learned about yourself and your game in this jam-packed month?
I guess I’m learning there is no need to go chasing things on the golf course. As long as you just play your game, be sensible and don’t make silly mistakes, the scores will come by themselves. One of the biggest keys has been learning to stay patient and not get ahead of yourself.
Is there a certain shot that you feel like got away because of impatience?
There’s not a specific moment I can recall, but I can look back at rounds and see where I dropped silly shots after taking on more than I needed to.
You recently played in the Phoenix Open, home of the rowdiest fans on the Tour schedule. Did you embrace the craziness of the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale?
I liked it. It’s different than any other event, and it’s nice to have variety and different atmospheres to play in. I felt like I played ok that week, I just didn’t score. I couldn’t get that to translate to good scores on the card. I had a great time, and I definitely would go back if I had the chance.
What have you been working on since the last time people might have seen you at the British Open?
That’s a long period of time, so certain things will be good and certain things will be bad as the year goes on. Since then, I’ve definitely gotten much more comfortable. My game is a little more consistant week in and week out, but I don’t really look back on what I’ve improved on. I’m just focusing on what shape the game is in now and how it’s going to perform that week. I look more short-term like that. I try to stay focused on the event I’m playing in. The Open was great, and it opened up a lot of doors for me to get into more events. Also to experience both tours straight away. It’s great.
Besides the big check at the end of the week, what’s the main difference between being an amateur and a pro?
I think you travel more on your own. When I traveled as an amateur, whether in college or on the Irish team, you always travel with a group of people. Now, there’s more traveling and it’s all by yourself. So getting used to managing yourself has been a change. You fly by yourself, stay by yourself and you meet people at the golf course. You spend more time by yourself, but it’s nothing to be complaining about.
Do you have any contemporaries or buddies that are on the same track as you are as an out-of-college youngster trying to make it?
I live with two guys back in Ireland that I played with in the Walker Cup. One just turned pro, and one is still an amateur. There are four guys from the Walker Cup team that turned pro that I can play and practice with.
So it’s kind of like a college-team vibe still?
We’re all just playing different places each week, and everyone’s opportunities are in different parts of the world. We’re playing different events, but hoping to end up in the same place.
You just signed an official endorsement deal with KPMG. What goes into a deal like that in terms of timing and logistics?
They came to us just before saying they were interested in the start of November. These things take time, and we got to know each other at the start. I think both parties were interested in making a deal, and we got to know each other and eventually got together on a deal.
Now you have an icebreaker when you meet Phil, you can compare hats.
I’m not sure I’m going to do that. (laughs) I’m just going to concentrate on my golf.
After playing at Torrey Pines and in the Phoenix Open and now at Pebble Beach, have you let yourself step back and realize that you’ve made it a little bit?
No. I’m happy with how my progress has gone, and how turning pro has gone, but it’s only a start. There’s plenty more golf to be played in the next years. I’m just trying to keep playing, keep improving and keep having good finishes.