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Dunne hopes Masters defence can ignite game – Ireland

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Paul Dunne missed his third cut in a row at the KLM Open but insisted he’s looking a big week in his defence of the Sky Sports British Masters next month.

The Greystones star has had a miserable run since he finished second in the Spanish Open and won the unofficial GolfSixes with Gavin Moynihan in April, missing six of his last 11 cuts.

He opened with back-to-back double bogeys yesterday, turning in five-over 41 before racing home in four-under 31 for a 72 that left him a shot outside the cut mark on level par.

The Wicklow man (25) needs a spark to get his season going again and he’s looking forward to his British Masters defence at Walton Heath, where he qualified for the US Open last year.

“It’s a big event at a great time of the year, coming up just before the end of the season Rolex Series events,” said Dunne, who chipped in at the 18th for a nine-under 61 to beat Rory McIlroy by three shots at Close House last year and claim his first win.

“With it having a good purse and a good field it makes such a difference no matter what you’re vying for at that stage of the season. Whether it’s top 20 or top 60 in the Race to Dubai, or to keep your card, there’s a lot on the line at that time of the year so it should be a great event.”

Dunne needs a few good weeks to achieve some short and long-term goals.

Currently 47th in the Race to Dubai, he must be inside the top 30 after the British Masters to qualify for next month’s WGC-HSBC Champions and remain there until the end of the season to be exempt for The Open at Royal Portrush.

It was also a slow day in the Netherlands for Pádraig Harrington who made two birdie twos in a one-under 70 to share 24th on four-under, eight strokes behind China’s Ashun Wu, who followed his opening 64 with a 66 to lead by three shots from England’s Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson on 12-under.

On the Challenge Tour, Michael Hoey shot a second successive five-under 67 to lie tied ninth, just three strokes behind England’s Max Orrin and Ben Stow at halfway in the €450,000 Kazakhstan Open.

With the winner claiming €72,000, it’s a golden opportunity for Hoey, who is just €15,000 outside the top 15 in the money list who will be awarded European Tour cards at the end of the season.

Orrin shot a 65 and Stow a 64 to lead on 13-under par with Jonny Caldwell tied 28th, seven off the lead, after a 68 and Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin a shot further back after 71s yesterday.

Ruaidhri McGee and Gary Hurley shot one-over 73s to miss the three-under cut by four and six strokes respectively.

On the Staysure Tour, Ryder Cup veteran Eamonn Darcy (66) posted a one-under 70 in the Scottish Senior Open at Craigielaw.

He’s tied for seventh, four strokes behind Welshman Stephen Dodd, who shot a 66 to lead David Shacklady and compatriot Ian Woosnam by a stroke.

Des Smyth and Brendan McGovern are tied 30th after two-over 73s with Ronan Rafferty and Philip Walton shooting 75.

On the PGA Tour Champions, Darren Clarke birdied the 18th to open with a one-under 71 in The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills. He was two-over after three but fought back to end his day three behind early leader John Huston.

At the Symetra Tour’s Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, Stephanie Meadow’s three-over 75 left her eight shots behind clubhouse leader Casey Danielson in Arkansas.

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