DUNBAR READY FOR AUGUSTA

�Russell Pritchard / Presseye  - 25th June 2012'Preperations for the Irish Open 2012 at Royal Portrush'Amateur Champion Alan Dunbar '�Russell Pritchard / Presseye
�Russell Pritchard / Presseye - 25th June 2012'Preperations for the Irish Open 2012 at Royal Portrush'Amateur Champion Alan Dunbar '�Russell Pritchard / Presseye
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WHAT a week it’s going to be for Alan Dunbar.

For the local golfer will be rubbing shoulders with the best in the sport at the iconic Augusta National Golf Course in the battle for the US Maters title and the famous ‘Green Jacket’ .

Dunbar earned his place at Augusta courtesy of a one-hole victory over Austria’s Matthias Schwab in last year’s 36-hole British Amateur final at Royal Troon last year.

The 22-year-old joins Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke at Augusta and he is hoping to pick their brains for some advice.

“Obviously I’d like to play with Graeme as a fellow Rathmore man but there’s all the other guys too like Rory and Darren Clarke and hopefully Shane Lowry too,” he said.

“It would be good to pick their brains a little.”

Dunbar’s place at Augusta might be ‘pricless’ to some but it turns out it’s going to cost him $14 a day to stay in the famous Crow’s Nest at Augusta National not that it’s going to worry him much.

Dunbar said: “Augusta charge you $14 a day for your room and board but it’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience. You couldn’t put a price on a place in the Masters and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ll stay at the Crow’s Nest the Saturday and Sunday before the Masters for sure and if it’s spot on I’ll stay the rest of the week.

“I’ll definitely have a room at the ISM house if it doesn’t work out, so it’s all good.”

It’s set to be a big year for Dunbar who has revealed that he will turn professional straight after the Masters. He confessed that he is not tempted to wait until after the US Open at Merion, for which he would have been exempt thanks to his win at Royal Troon.

“No, the road for me after what I achieved in the amateur game is going to be turning pro after the Masters,” he said.

“Hopefully I will get a few invites on the main tour before Augusta but I have no plans after that. I’m just really looking forward to this year.”

The Rathmore had the perfect warm up for Augusta as he rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to defeat US Amateur Champion Steven Fox last Thursday to win the 16th annual Georgia Cup match play event held at the Golf Club of Georgia.

On the par-5 18th with both golfers on in regulation, Dunbar – holding a 1-up lead – never gave Fox a chance to address his 10-foot putt as he drained the uphill right to left putt for the win.

Dunbar’s victory, evened the overall Georgia Cup series at 8-8 as the British Amateur champ has now won three of the last four events. Past winners include Matt Kuchar (USA, 1998), Sergio Garcia (Britain, 1999), Ricky Barnes (USA, 2003)

On a wet, cold British Open type day on the Lakeside course, Dunbar - who said with a smile “the weather was great” - came out of the gate fast with birdies on Nos.1 and 2 to offset pars by Fox for a 2-up lead.

“Winning the first two holes was key as that definitely gave me confidence,” said Dunbar.

“I thought I drove the ball well today and putted well, but missed some makeable putts,” he stated.

The north coast man also moves to 20th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking after climbing 13 places in the weekly re-rank.