Friday 23 June 2017

Cutler's amateur dramatics inspire Walker Cup victory

Chris Smart

Paul Cutler bid farewell to the amateur ranks yesterday in the most sensational style by boasting an unbeaten record, as Great Britain and Ireland won the Walker Cup for the first time since 2003.

Three wins and a half over the challenging Royal Aberdeen links in north-east Scotland during a pulsating weekend helped the hosts edge to a dramatic 14-12 success -- but the 22-year-old Irish champion from Portstewart looked like making it four wins out of four.

The 2010 Lytham Trophy winner was dormie four on the world's No 1 amateur Patrick Cantlay in the final match out in yesterday afternoon's closing session -- but the match was already won and he then lost the last four holes to some scintillating golf from the American to settle for a share of the spoils.

"It was like a dream come true. I said on Friday this was how I wanted to end my amateur career and it's worked out fine," said Cutler.

fantastic

Great Britain and Ireland captain Nigel Edwards said: "Paul has played brilliantly -- he and Dunbar in the foursomes and then the singles performances. It is a really fantastic result."

The home team were always in the driving seat. They won the Saturday foursomes 3-1, sharing the afternoon singles to lead by two points overnight, then taking a stranglehold in yesterday's foursomes -- winning them 3.5 to 0.5 to go five clear and holding on during a tense final afternoon.

While Britain and Ireland always seemed to have the edge, the pendulum swung late in the day and it was only when both Cutler and Rhys Pugh became dormie that the Cup was almost definitely returning to these shores. English champion Steven Brown won the closing hole to halve his match with Blayne Barber and seal the victory.

Cutler was in irrepressible form, lining up with Dunbar for an opening foursomes win by 5&4, defeating US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft by 2&1 and recording another foursomes success with Dunbar before the finale.

Cantlay produced amazing golf over the closing holes -- collecting two birdies and a par and finishing with an eagle three to force Cutler to settle for a half.

Only the Portstewart man and Welsh teenager Rhys Pugh were unbeaten over the two days.

Dunbar was five down at the turn against Chris Williams but battled back bravely without ever squaring and in the end lost by a hole.

During the weekend the wind blew hard and it rained for lengthy periods but this helped the mainly links-playing home golfers.

"I am certainly used to the wind in Northern Ireland so it did not bother me," said Cutler.

Former Irish captain Michael Burns, now a Walker Cup selector, had every reason to be proud.

"What a great win -- a marvellous team performance and the Irish boys played their full part."

While Cutler turns professional and prepares for European Tour school, Dunbar is biding his time and may even look to the 2013 Walker Cup in the States when Britain and Ireland will be defending champions, although he could take the plunge next year.

Meanwhile, the competition was not without controversy.

Jack Senior teamed up with fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan to beat American champion Kelly Kraft and Russell Henley on Saturday, but it then emerged that his caddie, his brother Joe, is a professional golfer -- which is not allowed under Walker Cup rules.

That could have turned a 3-1 lunchtime lead into 2-2 if the game had been awarded to the visitors.

But it was decided that because it came to light after the completion of the match, the result would stand and the home side went on to complete the job yesterday.

Irish Independent

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