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Walker Cup stars share lead in Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Published 01/10/2015

Jimmy Mullen made a dream professional debut, sharing the lead in the Dunhill Links Championship after the opening round
Jimmy Mullen made a dream professional debut, sharing the lead in the Dunhill Links Championship after the opening round

Walker Cup stars Jimmy Mullen and Paul Dunne enjoyed dream professional debuts to claim a share of the lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.

Mullen joined the paid ranks after contributing four points to September's record victory over the United States at Royal Lytham, becoming the first Great Britain and Ireland player to compile a perfect 4-0 record since Paul Casey and Luke Donald in 1999.

And the 21-year-old from Devon carried on from where he left off with eight birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in an opening 64 at Kingsbarns, which was matched by Irish team-mate Paul Dunne, whose memorable day also included a hole-in-one on the 15th.

Dunne, who shared the lead after 54 holes of the Open at St Andrews in July before fading in the final round, holed out from 205 yards with a five iron for his ace, joining Mullen and Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg on eight under par with his eighth birdie of the day on the ninth, his final hole.

"I t's great," said Mullen. "I didn't quite expect it obviously, to shoot eight under first time out. But Pablo (Larrazabal) helped me along and the two amateurs we were playing with, Miguel (Duenas) and my partner, Pascal (Alfaro) are just really nice guys. It was just a jolly out there really.

"Only played one round, so I wouldn't say it's easy. I've got a lot of learning to do but what I did as an amateur worked, so I didn't see any reason to change it.

"I've only played Kingsbarns once. I've played St Andrews lots of times and played Carnoustie five times in a year in the British Amateur, so I know those well. Carnoustie is always tough no matter what conditions you play in. I think it could be almost won or lost around Carnoustie, really.

"I'm happy I'm playing it last so I can build some confidence up and hopefully play well again at St Andrews tomorrow, shoot a good score, and really to go to Carnoustie knowing I'm playing and swinging it well."

Starting on the back nine at Kingsbarns, Dunne had carded two birdies, two bogeys and one par before holing his tee shot on the 15th.

"I kind of needed it," the 22-year-old from Greystones said.

"I got off to a bit of a ropey start. I was hitting a lot of poor full shots. My putter was kind of saving me and it was nice to get a hole-in-one. It was exactly as I pictured it.

"I tried to start it at the left edge of the green and let the wind drift it and I thought I hit it close. When I saw it drop, it was great. Nice little bonus there. I played some good golf from then on in. Happy with my score.

"I've been looking forward to getting started as a pro for a while. No better place to do it than on a links-style course like this. All three courses are in fantastic condition.

"Just looking at St Andrews (in practice), it looks a lot different. There are not all the massive stands from the Open but it brings back playing it, recent memories, and hopefully I can make some more like I did the first three days in the Open."

Broberg compiled his 64 at St Andrews, one of three venues used for the pro-am event, with Soren Kjeldsen, Richard Bland and Anthony Wall all shooting 65 at Kingsbarns.

Scotland's Marc Warren and Ryder Cup team-mates Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are four shots off the pace after rounds of 68, the lowest of the day at Carnoustie.

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