The Open Championship Will Conclude Monday and An Amateur is Making a Solid Push To Win

Paul Dunne incredibly leads the Open. (USATSI)
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The ghost of Bobby Jones lives on at the home of golf. If lifelong amateur Jones wants to remain the last man to win the Grand Slam, then he’s surely sending the Irish amateur Paul Dunne to disrupt Jordan Spieth’s Slam dreams.

Dunne, who played college golf at UAB, is using college coach Alan Murray as his caddie this week and sporting a UAB Blazers head cover for his driver. He shot a 6-under 66 in the third round of the British Open on Sunday, the lowest ever for an amateur at St. Andrews. He co-leads at 12 under after 54 holes along with Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen. He’ll play with Oosthuizen in the final group on Monday.

“He handled it so well and played unbelievable,” Oosthuizen told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi about playing with Dunne on Sunday.

Dunne, clad in Under Armour gear all week, is actually eight months older than the Under Armour-wearing Spieth, who is now chasing him at 11 under. Dunne says folks have confused the two all week.

But it is Spieth’s history Dunne is trying to negate and make some of his own in the process. An amateur hasn’t won the British Open since Bobby Jones in 1930. An amateur hasn’t won any major since the US Open in 1933 (the Masters and PGA Championship have never been won by an amateur). “I don’t know, it’s a bit surreal,” Dunne told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “Obviously I’m not in any form or bracket like Bobby Jones is — he’s a legend of the game. Anytime you can be associated with someone like that, it’s a real honor.” “If it were an amateur event, I would’t be surprised by my scores,” added Dunne. “Just lucky it happened in the biggest event in the world.” He handled immense pressure like a seasoned veteran on Sunday even though he had to crawl through qualifying just to get here. He was a 1500-to-1 extreme longshot; now he’s 18 holes from history. “Hopefully I can steal from the bookmakers a little more tomorrow,” Dunne told Rinaldi. “I’ve felt comfortable all week. I’ve played well. Today it was on No. 10 [when I first knew I had the lead]. There was a leaderboard behind that green. It was cool to lead the Open on the back nine on a Sunday.” Here’s a recap right before Dunne took the lead on No. 10. It was a wild afternoon on an easy course.

“This is about as much fun as any golfer could have anywhere,” said Dunne. “It was great hearing my name called from the crowd. I know so many people in the crowd as well, it feels like, so it felt like I was at home.”

“I’m just going to get my game kind of ready, put a number in my head that I need to shoot and go out there (on Sunday).”

You have to go back even further than 1930 to find the last time an amateur led this tournament after 54 holes like Dunne does on Sunday night.

Spieth, for his part, put things in perspective for Dunne and the destiny he’s trying to meet by the North Sea on Monday evening. “There will be an amateur that wins on Tour — heck, maybe a major — in the next decade,” said Spieth after his round. “The amateur game is so diverse and intense.” He just hopes it won’t come on Monday right in front of him at the Old Course.  

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