Saturday 23 September 2017

Cutler sets course record

GOLF: Walker Cup hopeful Paul Cutler took advantage of idyllic conditions to fire a new course record, six-under-par 65 to top the qualifiers for the match-play stages of the West of Ireland Amateur Open at a sun-kissed Rosses Point writes Brian Keogh.

The 22-year-old Portstewart international, the beaten finalist in 2007, carded seven birdies and dropped his only shot on the eighth at the newly lengthened links to take the medal by four strokes from Co Sligo's Barry Anderson (70), Forrest Little's Eoin Arthurs (70) and Kilkenny's Craig Martin (71) with a five under par total of 137.

"I'm very happy with that,'' said Cutler, who birdied the third, fifth, sixth, 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th.

The cut fell at nine-over par 151 with Greenore's Keith Shannon making it with a shot to spare as he followed his opening 82 in Friday's high winds with a spectacular 68 that featured an eagle, seven birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys.

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Nicolas Colsaerts produced a third-round 66 yesterday to reach 18-under par, giving him a one-stroke lead over Korean Han Chang-Won at the China Open at Luxehills International Country Club.

Ireland's Peter Lawrie and France's Gregory Havret are tied for third after both carded 68s to advance to 16-under while Damien McGrane is back at 10-under following a 68.

Elsewhere, Lee Westwood's fine six-under-par 66 saw the world No 2 open up a five-stroke lead going into the final round of the Indonesian Masters. Westwood collected eight birdies and two bogeys including one at the last at Royale Jakarta Club to finish 16-under par, well clear of Thailand's Thitiphun Chuayprakong and Korean Park Hyun-bin.

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Leona and Lisa Maguire were in first and joint fifth position respectively at the end of the second round of the Helen Holm Scottish Women's Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship in Ayrshire yesterday.

There have been only two big women's amateur championships in Europe so far this year and Leona won the Portuguese title and Lisa the Spanish championship.

Leona is in pole position to make it a family hat-trick with scores of 69 and 72 for a nine-under-par total of 141, one shot ahead of Dunfermline schoolteacher Louise Kenney (71-71) and England's Charlotte Ellis (73-69). Lisa Maguire is on 145 after rounds of 73 and 72.

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HOCKEY: The Irish senior women's team scored a 2-0 win over France at Serepentine Avenue yesterday in the first of three internaional test matches.

Michelle Harvey, the Irish sweeper, scored both the goals with short corner strikes, the first just on half time and the second 14 minutes after the break.

Meanwhile, host club Railway Union, who pulled off a thrilling 2-2 draw in Friday's opener against Sumchanka (Ukraine), were well in contention against Belgian side Royal Wellington sharing two goals apiece at half time, but the visitors had two goals to spare at the finish. Railway's chances of gaining promotion into next season's Euro Hockey event all but ended as Sumchanka beat San Saba (Italy) 2-0.

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SNOOKER: Judd Trump is "super-confident" about his chances of becoming the youngest world champion this century.

The 21-year-old demolished Neil Robertson's hopes of a successful title defence seven days ago and yesterday added Martin Gould to his list of victims as he tied up the loose ends of their second-round clash.

Trump won 13-6, having led 11-5 overnight, and the Bristol cueman now faces a World Championship quarter-final against Graeme Dott who beat Ali Carter 13-11.

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MOTORSPORT: A tremendous duel for top place saw the lead in the Donnelly Group/UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally swing forward and back between two greats of Irish rallying, with Banbridge veteran Kenny McKinstry snatching back the advantage over the final three stages of the opening day to leave him just 1.6 seconds ahead of top seed Derek McGarrity overnight.

With the final three stages of the day close to Banbridge, McKinstry's local knowledge paid off and he was quickest on all three, leaving him with the overnight lead.

Kevin Barrett from Maynooth held third place despite some early problems, with Garry Jennings and Neil McCance, battling for the Group N Production class, next on the leaderboard.

Today the rally will cover a further six stages in Counties Monaghan and Tyrone with the finish back in Armagh late this afternoon.

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GAELIC FOOTBALL: Two first-half goals from Oisin Doherty and Alan Grant set up Derry for this deserved 2-17 to 1-13 victory over Down in the Christy Ring Cup in McKenna Park, Ballycran yesterday.

Derry were the more committed side taking some marvellous scores. They dominated midfield through Kevin Hinphey and Oisin McCloskey while all the attackers got on the score sheet.

Meanwhile, two goals midway through the opening period made all the difference for Meath as they led from start to finish in their 2-21 to 1-17 Christy Ring Cup victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds.

In the same competition, Shane Nolan was on fire for Kerry, scoring seven points from play as they saw off a gritty Kildare 1-25 to 1-21 in Newbridge. Elsewhere, ten points from Jonathan O'Neill was the difference as Wicklow defeated Mayo 1-19 to 1-17 in their first round match at McHale Park, Castlebar.

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RUGBY: Ireland were crowned FIRA-AER U-18 European champions for the first time following a 17-8 victory over England in Tarbes.

Blackrock College winger Conor McEllin crossed for a 26th minute try. Talismanic captain Luke McGrath was hugely influential again, distributing well and keeping the English defence on its toes.

England's heavier pack had an advantage in the scrum but Ireland were sharper in most other facets of the game.

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