The 150th Open: Revisiting amateur Paul Dunne's historic 2015 run
13 Jul 2022
by Pete Wlodkowski of

see also: Paul Dunne Rankings

It's always fun waking up early to watch the final round of the Open Championship, or as we commonly call it in the U.S, the British Open. I've set the alarm clock for 4:00 or 5:00 am several times.

But only twice did I not let several smashes of the snooze bar stop me from actually watching those first tee shots. I can remember both of them like they were yesterday.

The first, was in 2009, when Stewart Cink prevented 59-year-old Tom Watson from becoming the oldest-ever winner of a major title at Turnberry. Watson had played flawless golf all week, but a well-struck 8-iron trickled over the 18th green, leading to a bogey and playoff instead of outright victory. The rest, as they say, is history.

The second time I kept my appointment with The Open broadcast was 2015, when Irishman Paul Dunne captured the golf world's attention by setting a single-round scoring record (66 in round 3) and holding the 54-hole lead.

Paul Dunne (The Open/R&A photo)
And Dunne was an amateur. His date with history on that final Sunday would put him up against an 85-year run for the pros. The last amateur to have the 54-hole lead at The Open was a guy named Bobby Jones in 1927. The last amateur to win The Open was Jones in 1930 - his grand slam year.

He and his caddy, his college coach from the University of Alabama Birmingham, had a strategy coming into the week: play each day hole-by-hole, pick your targets on each hole, follow the best, most forgiving lines and commit to each swing. Despite the lack of precedent since Jones, both were convinced that Dunne could win. And he played like it.

On a rare Monday finish at St. Andrews -- high winds had delayed play earlier in the week -- Dunne went off in the final pairing with 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen. He would ultimately fade under the final round spotlight, but he handled himself well and earned the affection of the Scottish crowds.

“It was cool. I actually said on my way up that this is as much fun as any golfer can have, anywhere. It was great; I could hear my name being called from the crowd,” he said at the time. “It feels like I’m at home.”

Johnny Goodman remains the last amateur to win a men's professional major, capturing the U.S. Open in 1933. Six amateurs will tee it up at St. Andrews this week attempting to replicate the feat, one that may be just a little more within reach thanks to the example of Paul Dunne.

Listen to the podcast below with Paul Dunne (courtesy The Open Championship / R&A), who recounts that amazing week.

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