| 8.4°C Belfast

Paul Dunne keeps momentum going with impressive start to Alfred Dunhill Links


Paul Dunne made a fine start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Paul Dunne made a fine start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Paul Dunne made a fine start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Paul Dunne is feeling good about life after maintaining his superb recent form with an impressive start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Irishman, who secured a maiden European Tour title at last week's British Masters, shot a five-under-par 67 at St Andrews to end the opening day in a share of the lead with Nicolas Colsaerts.

Belgium's Colsaerts, whose score represented a good recovery after a double bogey seven on his third hole, played his first round of the three-course event at Kingsbarns.

Dunne told Sky Sports: "My game still feels good. I stood up on the first and I was still confident in my swing. It takes that bit of pressure off when you've done it once.

"It was a disappointing finish, but, in general, all things feel good and life is pretty good at the minute."

The 24-year-old shone on his front nine over the Old Course. He made birdie at the third and sixth and then holed from 22 feet for eagle at the ninth.

Further birdies followed at the 11th and 14th and, although there was a slip at the 17th - the notoriously difficult Road Hole - and a missed opportunity at the last, his round was still an accomplished one.

It made for a happy return to the 'Home of Golf', the scene of his impressive showing at the Open as an amateur in 2015.

On that occasion Dunne held a share of the lead after three rounds, but eventually fell away to finish in a tie for 30th. He now has mixed feelings about that championship.

He said: "I think the Open was a great thing for me. It opened so many doors for sponsors and invites when I turned pro.

"But, also, how many times are you going to lead the Open at St Andrews with one round to go? It was a situation I wasn't used to at the time and it might have overwhelmed me.

"It was one that slipped away, but something that set up my professional career as well."

Colsaerts recovered from his poor third hole by claiming birdies at four of the next five holes. Three more birdies on the back nine, including the 17th and 18th, made for a strong finish.

Five players were in a tie for third at four under, including defending champion Tyrell Hatton, fellow Englishman Oliver Fisher and Ireland's Shane Lowry. They also began their tournament at St Andrews.

Ten players were on three under, including England's Ben Evans and Scot David Drysdale, who recorded the best scores at the third course being used, Carnoustie, along with Joakim Lagergren.

World number six Rory McIlroy - who was playing alongside his father Gerry in the concurrent pro-am competition - ended the day one over after shooting 73 at St Andrews.

McIlroy was three over at one point, but finished with birdies at the 14th and 18th. It might have been better had eagle putts at the ninth and 18th rolled in.