In-form Dunne shares Alfred Dunhill lead with Colsaerts
British Masters champion Paul Dunne is an a strong position to contend for a second straight title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Paul Dunne maintained his form from the British Masters to take a share of the lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Irishman claimed his first career win last week as he beat Rory McIlroy by three strokes and appears set to challenge for a second successive title following the first 18 holes in Scotland.
Playing on the St Andrews old course, Dunne carded a five-under-parÂ 67, an effort matched by joint-leader Nicolas Colsaerts on Kingsbarns.
Dunne made the turn in 32 thanks in part to an eagle at the par-four ninth, where he holed from 22 feet. A superb tee shot gave him a birdie at the 11th and he two-putted at the 14th for another gain, with his only dropped shot of the day coming at the penultimate hole.
Colsaerts recovered magnificently from a double-bogey seven at the third, posting birdies on four of the next five holes to make the turn in 34. He gained another stroke at the 12th, with a 20-footer at the 18th sealing a birdie-birdie finish.Â
Defending championÂ Tyrrell Hatton heads a quintet of players a shot off the lead, with Wang Jeung-hun among 10 who are two adrift.
McIlroy's hopes of claiming a first win of the year in his final event of 2017 look slim after the four-time major championÂ started with a one-over 73 on the old course.
After a birdie at the first McIlroy doubled the second and dropped another shot at the eighth only to immediately gain it back a hole later.
His difficulties continued with bogeys at 11 and 13, but the 28-year-oldÂ found momentum on the final five holes, which were marked by birdies on the 14th and the last, though he remains five off the pace.
"It was tricky enough out there. I feel like I could have shot a few better but it was tough because some of the greens out there are quite exposed and you're sort of in two minds when you're reading a putt, whether to think that the wind is going to affect it or not," said McIlroy.
"Some putts were affected by the wind out there and some putts weren't. Sort of just committed to that. It was okay. Was two under for the last two to make it more respectable and hopefully I can play better at Carnoustie tomorrow [Friday].
"I've got off to slow starts here in the past and been able to recover and get myself back into the tournament. I feel like I can do the same again."