Cutler bids to end amateur days in style
Published 10/09/2011 | 05:00
Paul Cutler is desperate to bid farewell to the amateur ranks this weekend by helping Great Britain and Ireland halt the run of American successes in the Walker Cup.
The last three matches have been won by the States, and captain Nigel Edwards is looking for Irish influence in the first session of foursomes this morning as he has opted to pair Cutler and Alan Dunbar together. They face Nathan Smith and Blayne Barber in the third match.
"They know each other well and each other's games and it seems the ideal pairing," said 43-year-old Welshman Edwards.
Dunbar is omitted from the afternoon singles, but Cutler faces the newly-crowned US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft.
Royal Aberdeen in north-east Scotland is a daunting venue at the best of times and with the likelihood of storms off the North Sea, the links are going to be particularly tough.
Cutler, the 22-year-old Irish Amateur and West of Ireland champion, is more used to those conditions than most, having learned the game on the rugged Portstewart links on the exposed Northern Ireland coast next to Royal Portrush.
"I will feel quite at home if the wind blows," said Cutler, who plans to go to Tour School in a bid for fame and fortune in the paid ranks.
"Nothing could be better for me than to turn professional on the back of being part of a winning Walker Cup team. That is really my aim."
Cutler played well in this year's Irish Open, finishing in 21st place, and is currently ranked at No 24 in the world amateur rankings.
Dunbar (21) from Rathmore has lacked consistency this year, but he grabbed the runners-up spots in the Brabazon Trophy and West of Ireland Championship, as well as earning a top-10 finish in the Irish Amateur.
Captain Edwards believes it will all depend on the short games of the players. "We have been putting in a lot of practice around the greens and I hope it will pay dividends," he said.
The Walker Cup squad visited Aberdeen in May and July to get used to the course.
There is just one survivor from the 2009 match at Merion GC in the US, 21-year-old Stiggy Hodgson, who says he is happy to be considered an old hand and be the team leader out on the course.