Amateur champion faces Tour school dilemma
ALAN Dunbar, the newly-crowned Amateur champion, could be faced with a dilemma later this year when he tries his luck at the European Tour Qualifying School.
The level of success the 23-year-old from Portrush enjoys there will determine whether or not he’ll accept the traditional invitation for The Masters as well as a spot in next year’s US Open.
“I suppose I’ll still go to Qualifying School as an amateur and see how I get on. That was the plan before this anyway,” said Dunbar as he savoured beating Austrian Matthias Schwab on the last green in Saturday’s 36-hole final at Royal Troon.
“The dilemma is if I go to Q-School and get my card, what do I do? If I got a full European Tour and 20 events, I’d take that and turn pro. I know Augusta is special and I suppose a practice round with Rory [McIlroy] or Graeme [McDowell] would be quite nice. But it would be very hard not to take a European Tour card, put it that way.”
Dunbar’s hard-earned win in Ayrshire – the lead changed five times in the title showdown – also secured a spot in next month’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and he definitely won’t be turning that down.
The Rathmore player could also be set for two appearances in European Tour events in the next three weeks – the Irish Open and the Scottish Open where a place was put aside for the Amateur champion.
Dunbar’s third win on Scottish soil – he lifted the St Andrews Links Trophy in 2009 then helped Great Britain & Ireland win the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen last year – maintained a remarkable run of success for Northern Irish golfers.
It came in the aftermath of McDowell and McIlroy winning the 2010 and 2011 US Opens respectively, Darren Clarke’s victory in last year’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s and Michael Hoey lifting the Dunhill Links title a few months later.
“My putting was great all week,” said Dunbar. “I struggled with the long game as the week went on and I had to rely on my putting.”
Schwab, who missed from four feet at the last after being one up with two to play, refused to be too downcast.
“It’s all right for me,” said the 17-year-old. “I’m happy to be second. I came here to make the cut and made the final, so there’s no need to be negative.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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