Ireland’s Dunne surges into Spanish Open halfway lead

Paul Dunne of Ireland plays his second shot from the fairway on the second hole during the final round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on April 1, 2018 in Humble, Texas

Madrid (Spain) (AFP) – Irishman Paul Dunne claimed a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Spanish Open with an enterprising second-round 65 on Friday, while home favourite Jon Rahm stayed well-placed for a weekend charge.

World number 76 Dunne, who is playing his first regular European Tour event since January after a successful stint in the United States, poured in nine birdies in his seven-under-par round to take the overall advantage on 13-under.

“My game is in good shape, I’m feeling good. I see a lot of birdies around this course if the weather stays like this so hopefully I can make them,” Dunne told

“I think it’s been training the right way for a while and I’ve got a nice run of events here in Europe over the next few weeks as well, so I’m looking forward to that and hopefully just keep doing what I am doing.”

The 25-year-old made his name when he tied for the lead after three rounds of the 2015 British Open as an amateur, and claimed his first professional title at last year’s British Masters.

After back-to-back top-10 finishes on the USPGA Tour, Dunne leads by three strokes from the trio on 10-under of Nacho Elvira, Brett Rumford and Callum Shinkwin.

World number four Rahm, who finished fourth at last week’s Masters after a thrilling weekend surge, added a four-under 68 to his opening 67 and is four strokes off the lead.

The big-hitting Spaniard eagled the opening hole, but a double-bogey on the 12th stalled his charge.

But he was delighted to be playing in front of a large home crowd as he bids to follow the likes of compatriots Sergio Garcia, Seve Ballesteros and Miguel Angel Jimenez in winning the title.

“It’s amazing. I think everybody wasn’t expecting the amount of people that we have this week. I’m glad that I can help the tournament, I’m glad I can help Spain and Spanish golf in that sense,” Rahm said.

“I don’t remember the last time I played a tournament where the first hole is a par five and from the tee all the way to the green there was at least a line of people, and the first hole is not a short hole.”

Defending champion Andrew Johnston signed for a second successive 68 and is only a shot further adrift in a tie for ninth.