Saturday 25 February 2017

Cutler looks to Irish Close after British Amateur exit

Ireland's hopes of having their first British Amateur champion since Brian McElhinney five years ago were dashed at Muirfield yesterday when Paul Cutler fell by the wayside in the quarter-finals.

But the 21-year-old Walker Cup hopeful from Portstewart was not too disappointed by his defeat at the hands of South Korean Jin Jeong -- and he is looking forward to next week's Irish Close championship at Royal Dublin.

By reaching the last eight at Muirfield, Cutler is exempt from qualifying for the Irish and moves straight into the match-play phase.

"I am really looking forward to the championship now," he said. "I am happy at reaching the last eight. It is a great achievement.

"I am learning to be more patient and wait for chances. The more and more you play, you realise that patience is important."

Cutler was to have been going out in the Irish qualifying this morning with defending champion Pat Murray and Alan Dunbar.

His battle with Jeung, who is No 10 in the world amateur rankings, was a closely-fought affair with no more than a hole between the players for much of the contest.

A crucial moment came at the 15th when Jeung holed his second shot for a winning eagle two. When Cutler missed the green at the short 16th it was all over.

Jeong went on to reach the final with a convincing 5&4 success in the semi-finals against Matthew Nixon, the former British Boys Champion from Lancashire.

He will today face Suffolk-born Scottish international James Byrne in the 36-hole final.

Byrne had only one bogey in first disposing of Frenchman Edouard Espana and then Walker Cup player Chris Paisley.

Moriarty falls off pace in Saint-Omer

Ireland's Colm Moriarty, who had topped the leaderboard alongside Austrian Marin Wiegele after the first round, hit a disappointing two-over-par 73 to finish in joint sixth position at the end of the second round of the Saint-Omer Open in France.

Moriarty is three shots adrift of Englishman Robert Dinwiddie, who fired a superb six-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead over Wiegele heading into the third round.

Dinwiddie, the Challenge Tour leader, is trying to win a place on the European Tour next season and admitted it was difficult keeping the importance of the tournament from his mind.

"You try to downplay the importance," he said. "Really you've just got to treat it like any other event, and just try to hit the best shot you can every time. I'm really happy with a 65."

Wiegele failed to build on his first-round 66 but his par 71 kept him one shot clear in second ahead of England's Jamie Elson and Matt Haines, and Mark Haastrup of Switzerland.

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Irish Independent

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