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Irish Open has 'always been a major' to local golfers says Dunne

By Gareth Hanna

For Ireland's professional golfers, Portstewart will be home to the unofficial fifth major this summer.

That's according to Paul Dunne, who was on Wednesday taking in a bit of practice at Portstewart Golf Club to mark 50 days until the beginning of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Dunne showed the rest how it was done at the par three 12th hole during the media and sponsors day.

As well as get his eye in with his short irons, the 24 year-old also explained just how important the tournament is for lrish golfers.

"It's always been a major in our minds," he said. "For us growing up, the four majors and the Irish Open were the five biggest tournaments of the year.

"Now with major sponsors Dubai Duty Free on board and a global superstar like Rory (McIlroy) putting his name to the event, it's going from strength to strength. I think globally it's seen as a major on the European Tour as well."

Dunne, from Greystones, hit the headlines in 2015 when, as an amateur, he was joint leader of the Open Championship after three rounds. He didn't manage to take top spot then and is still awaiting his first win on the European Tour. Where better to break his duck than back at his national championship?

He said: "It's great for me to be able to play in front of the home support and to get family up to stay. I have home comforts for a week but the tournament's getting bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger. With the event being associated with links courses, a lot of people come over to try and prepare for the Open. That attracts some American players as well. I think it's going to be a great event and hopefully I can give my family something to cheer about."

Tickets to see Rahm at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.

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