Paul Dunne and Jimmy Mullen share Dunhill lead on pro debuts

Englishman Jimmy Mullen lines up a putt en route to his 64 at Kingsbarns
Englishman Jimmy Mullen lines up a putt en route to his 64 at Kingsbarns
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ROOKIE professionals may once have been like rabbits dazzled by headlights but not these days. Take Paul Dunne and Jimmy Mullen, for example. On day one in their new jobs, the Walker Cup team-mates shared the lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with Swede Kristoffer Broberg.

Dunne’s eight-under-par 64 at Kingsbarns was illuminated by a hole-in-one at the picturesque 15th. Mullen matched that effort at the same course with a round that contained an eagle and eight birdies. In both instances, it was an incredible start to life in the paid ranks.

“My putter saved me when I got off to a ropey start, but the hole-in-one was a nice little bonus and I played some good golf from then on,” said Dunne, a 22-year-old Dubliner. He is no stranger in this neck of the woods, having become the first amateur since Bobby Jones in 1927 to lead the Open when he surged into joint-top spot with a round to go in this year’s Claret Jug joust at St Andrews.

Relishing his return to the Old Course today for his second round, Dunne said: “It looks a lot different due to the massive stands for the Open having been taken down, but I’ll be going there with good memories and hopefully I can play as well as I did on the first three days on that occasion.”

Mullen, a 21-year-old from Devon, was honest enough to admit he “didn’t expect” such a flying start. He also dismissed the suggestion that pro life is “easy”, saying: “It’s only one round and I’ve got a lot of learning to do.”

Broberg, who carded a flawless eight-under-par opening effort at St Andrews, has John Dempster on his bag this week, a year after the Scottish caddie was at Oliver Wilson’s side as the Englishman claimed this title.