Remember when Tom Watson almost won the Open Championship at Turnberry in 2009? Remember how incredible a performance he turned in and the craze that followed and the talk of what could have been?
For sure, Watson collecting Open No. 6 would’ve been epic — but what could happen on Monday at St. Andrews would be even more impressive.
With a win on Monday, Irish amateur Paul Dunne would make history.
On Sunday at St. Andrews, the unheralded amateur shot up the leaderboard with a career-low round of 66, putting him in a tie for the leade and in position to become the first amateur to win, well, anything in quite some time.
It’s been more than 85 years since an amateur has won the Open Championship and 82 since one has won any major (Johnny Goodman, 1933 U.S. Open). No amateur has won an event on the European Tour since Shane Lowry in 2009 and on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991.
Bobby Jones was the last amateur to win the Open Championship — he did it three times in five years from 1926 to 1930.
Dunne is the only senior on his golf team at the University of Alabama Birmingham, but isn’t even the leader in scoring average on his team. Not to mention, only once has he won a college tournament in his entire career.
“I think I made a lot of people back home some money,” Dunne — who opened the week as a 1,500/1 longshot — said of his performance this week at St. Andrews.
“I’ve felt comfortable all week and played well,” Dunne told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.
“It’s cool. To Lead the open on the back nine on Sunday. Different kind of Sunday, but still cool.”
To say this performance has come out of no where would be a major understatement — but his peers have taken notice and have been impressed with his (potentially) legendary performance.
“There was so much pressure on him and he handled it so well,” said Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Champion at St. Andrews who played beside Dunne during Sunday’s third round.
Should Dunne win the Open Championship on Monday, the win would go down in history as one of the biggest upsets that not just golf, but sports have ever seen.
So what’s Dunne’s strategy for getting off to a good start on Monday?
“Make contact with the ball,” Dunne said, acknowledging that he’s been battling nerves all week.
Regardless of the outcome on Monday, Dunne will turn pro and join the European Tour following this week’s performance at St. Andrews.
Who needs the world No. 1 in the field when you’ve got an amateur poised to make history? Regardless of superstar names that share the leaderboard, the big star
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