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August 20, 2015

Paul Dunne

Olympia Fields, Illinois

Q. We'd like to welcome Paul Dunne, a 3 & 2 winner over David Oraee in the third round of the U.S. Amateur and advancement to the quarterfinals. That's got to be a good thing to hear, that you're a quarterfinalist here.
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, definitely. I'm just trying to take it one match at a time. You can only play who's in front of you and play the match in front of you. There's a long way to go before the end of the week here, whether it's for me or whoever goes all the way. So yeah, I'm just happy to get through two good wins today, and looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow.

Q. We talked before about expectations and what yours were. At the beginning of the summer, could you have imagined where you are right now?
PAUL DUNNE: In terms of the amateur golf I've played, yeah, definitely. I didn't think I'd get the experience of playing in the final group of The Open, but it's something I'm grateful to have done. You know, I knew I could shoot the scores I needed to to play as well as I have. I just didn't know it would put me in the situations it has. But for the amateur stage, I knew that I'm good enough that if I play well, I can compete in any amateur event.

It's just all about playing well at the right time, especially in match play. You have to play well when you have your toughest matches. Yeah, I definitely had my toughest match this afternoon, but I played my best golf of the week, hit a lot of good shots, and I made a lot of good up-and-downs when I did hit a few loose ones. I felt like I kept the pressure on him kind of the whole day once I got in front, and I think that was the difference, really.

Q. You have a nice little North Atlantic wind blowing out there today, so you had to feel pretty much at home?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, it was playing really difficult because I felt like on the greens -- the greens are quick, and pins are around a few slopes, but I felt like the wind was going with the slopes on all the holes, so it made the breaks really tricky. If you got above the hole, it was really quick. Lag putting was difficult, and I feel like that's the thing I did best today. My long putting was very good. I made a couple of them and managed to get the other ones either to a gimme or to a really makeable range. That was something I did really well today. Hopefully I can keep it up tomorrow.

Q. Those two early ones you made, how long were those two putts and how big a lift was that to get out early?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, the one on No. 3 was probably 35 feet down the hill. Yeah, I just made a mess of the 2nd. I got a nice birdie on the 1st, so did David. I made a mess of the 2nd to go 1-down, so it was nice to roll it in for birdie on the 3rd to get it back. He was struggling for par on -- I think he had maybe 12, 15 feet for par. Yeah, but it was nice to just put it beyond doubt and roll that one in. Gary Hurley, my caddie, gave me a great read on that one. I wanted to go a little further left, and he told me it was a little further right, so I went with his read and made it. And the same thing on the 4th. The 4th was about 35 feet again, and there was a pitch mark about halfway, a repaired pitch mark that I thought it was just right of, and when he read it, he thought it was just left of, and I went with his read and made it again. I had him read pretty much all my putts then.

It was nice to get those two in and kind of shift the momentum after making a mess of the 2nd.

Q. How are you doing physically, feeling pretty good?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, I'm feeling good. Sleeping well, you know. The jet lag over here coming from home helps kind of because you get up early and you go to bed early and you have no problem getting to sleep. I think that's helped me this week.

Q. When the call came that you were going to be in here with a special exemption, where were you when you got that, and did you know that was going to work?
PAUL DUNNE: I was actually just sitting on my couch watching TV at about 11:00 at night, and I just checked my phone. It was an email I got that told me to call back because they had some information for me. So I called them about 11:00 at night and knew I was in. Yeah, the first thing, I was straight into booking flights and getting in touch with the other Irish lads that were going, see what their plans were. Yeah, it was great to get the call to get in. Very grateful to be in the event, and glad to be doing well.

Q. Would it have been tough to watch this do you think at home, knowing the quality of your play and what you could do here?
PAUL DUNNE: Yes and no. I mean, when you watch things on TV, it's easy to say, oh, if I was there, I'd do this, but you never know until you're actually there. It wouldn't have been difficult to watch as much as you just kind of wishing you were playing. But if I didn't play here, I would have played in Amateur Nationals back in Ireland for the Irish team which finished a few days ago. We were lucky to get -- not lucky. We were glad to get an Irish win out of it. It was great that they could do that with us over here, and hopefully we can continue the success here.

Q. Where was that?
PAUL DUNNE: Amateur Nationals in Royal Portrush, yeah.

Q. What would an Irish win mean here? Nobody has ever done that from Ireland.
PAUL DUNNE: I'm sure it would be a big deal, but there's plenty of golf left to be played before I can think about that. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what nationality everybody is. Everyone is a golfer here. Just looking forward to my match tomorrow. Hopefully I can hit less shots than the guy I'm playing against and keep rolling, but we'll find out tomorrow and just look forward to getting some food and rest and I suppose looking forward to the challenge ahead tomorrow.

Q. You've got an interesting perspective. The finish at the Open in the last group on Sunday puts a big spotlight on you, but you said you feel less pressure from it, not more pressure; is that right?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, I think just being in the situation that I was in, it's kind of like the most pressure-packed situation in golf. I found myself -- obviously I didn't shoot a good score the last round, but I felt like I handled myself well. I wasn't overwhelmed by the situation, and to know that I can handle myself in that situation gives me confidence going into every other event that I'm playing, knowing that there's nothing that can be thrown at me that I think I can't handle.

In that way, yeah, it's kind of a settling feeling. Yeah, some people have said that people have more expectation of me now, but that never really bothers me. There's always expectation from some people. There's just more people outside expecting me to do well there. But that stuff never seems to affect me. I'm just more interested in the expectations I have for myself.

Q. What are the expectations you have for yourself these days now that you're going to turn professional in a month's time?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, I'm not really thinking about results. I'm more thinking towards the expectations I have in kind of preparing myself to play, and then when I'm playing, to be in the right mindset and to just fully commit to my shots. I find that when I hit bad shots, if I've fully committed to them, just let it go at my target, and it's gone offline, I find it really easy to deal with, but it's when you kind of steer one or don't trust yourself and then hit a bad one, that's what really annoys me. As long as I can stick to that process, I know that if my game keeps get being better, I'll be fine. That's why I was grateful to have Gary on the bag today. He could keep my mind focused on what it needed to be focused on, especially when he chipped in on 13, it kind of looked like he was going to make 5, and then snuck a 3 out of it, so it was kind of a two-hole swung to go back to 1-up. Yeah, it was good to have him there. He just kind of refocused me, just told me to make my birdie on 14 and just get back on the driver's seat, really.

Q. Obviously you're all about just looking after your own game and paying attention to your own shots, but there is a lot of interest to hear what the Walker Cup team will be on Monday, and we're expecting high expectations from people that we're going to have a huge number. Have you and the other guys come to terms with the fact that the captain has a difficult decision to make and it might not be as many as we'd like or do you think we'll be satisfied with what we get? What's your attitude about that situation?
PAUL DUNNE: I don't know. It's hard to say. Obviously every captain that has to pick a team has difficult decisions because he's got to leave people out. I think it's harder to leave people out than to tell the people obviously they're on the team. But when it comes to Walker Cup, there's just a lot more spotlight on the decisions. The Irish managers will have these hard decisions to make, as well. There's just not as much media attention towards the picks. Nigel has got a tough job coming up. There's a lot of Irish hoping to get on the team. I'm sure there's a lot of Irish, as well, that think they have a good chance, but we'll find out in the next few days. It would be great to see a lot of Irish on the team. All of us are really good friends, so obviously you root for your friends to get on the team, but we'll find out in a few days. I don't really know what else to say.

Q. Irish golf is so strong at the moment, isn't it, with the results we've had in amateur events. The guys that you might be playing tomorrow, I'm not sure which one it is, but both are very complimentary about your game and what you've achieved in college. Can you talk about those two guys? I'm not sure which of the two you're going to be playing, Maverick or Bryson DeChambeau.
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, I know both of them. I know Maverick and Bryson, but I don't know them really well, just to say hi to every now and then. But yeah, both great players. Bryson, obviously we were both up there competing for the NCAA title, which he won. He's been a great player every year in college. We played against him in the Palmer Cup last year, as well. He does things a little differently to everyone else, but he obviously does it really well. He's got a great game. I'm sure it'll be a good match tomorrow. It'll be a tough match, but I know if I do the things I can do and play my game that I'll have a good chance. Only time will tell.

And then obviously Maverick has done incredible this year. I think last year he was on the team in Stanford with Patrick Rodgers and Cameron Wilson, who pretty much dominated college golf between the two of them, and then when they left, he obviously learned a lot from them and took it into his season, and he won the Haskins Award for Player of the Year. The two of them are obviously great players. I know Maverick has had some success on the PGA TOUR this summer, as well.

Yeah, look forward to my match tomorrow, and look forward to hopefully playing against them in the Walker Cup in a few weeks, but they're two really nice guys. I know it'll be a good match played in the right spirit.

Q. What was your favorite thing about Alabama when you got there?
PAUL DUNNE: Well, I was in Birmingham, UAB. Definitely the weather. I mean, when I'm playing golf in shorts and tee shirts in November when everyone else is stuck inside when it's minus degrees Celsius at home, it's nice because you know when you're on the range or playing or practicing your short game that you're getting an advantage over the people at home that can't really play or practice as well as they'd want to. It was definitely the weather for me was the big thing. Obviously when I got over there, I got on well with my teammates, as well. It was a fun environment to be in, but the weather was a big draw.

Q. Where did you guys play in Birmingham?
PAUL DUNNE: We played pretty much all over. We host our event at Shoal Creek, and we play a lot in Old Overton, Birmingham Country Club, Greystone, all those places around there. We had a good deal. We played probably nine or ten courses.

Q. Pine Tree still there?
PAUL DUNNE: Pine Tree is there. Yeah, we played there. One of my teammates for the first three years, Sam Love, who's on the Web.com TOUR now, he was a member at Pine Tree, so we played there quite a lot, as well.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PAUL DUNNE: I play out of Greystone, yeah. I play and practice out of there. But then the amateur events takes us around the links golf circuit in Ireland, so we play a lot of great courses.

Q. Did you work with Eric Eshleman at all?
PAUL DUNNE: I did, yeah. I worked with Eric for the last two and a half years in Birmingham Country Club. He made a big difference to me. I went to him with an idea halfway through my sophomore year that I wanted to change something in my swing, but I just wanted to do it with someone, and he's great to the UAB program. He works with a few players on the team. I still keep in contact with him. I was talking to him last night actually. Yeah, he's been great for my game. Big help for my golf swing.

Q. Did he get you a little more length?
PAUL DUNNE: Yeah, through my sophomore year I used to aim left, have a shut club face and kind of hit blocks, so I was trying to weaken my grip a bit. I still have a strong grip, but it was a lot stronger, and just be able to set up square and swing down the line more with more freedom. Since halfway through that year, I've probably picked up 30 yards with the driver and an extra club, so it's made a big difference, and I've gotten a lot straighter off the tee, as well.

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