Sunday 17 December 2017

Cutler digs deep to keep Irish Muirfield hopes alive

Chris Smart

Paul Cutler is keeping Irish hopes alive in the 115th Amateur Championship at Muirfield after two splendid match-play displays yesterday.

The 21-year-old Lytham Trophy winner from Portstewart had to pull out all the stops to get past highly rated former Scottish Boys champion Michael Stewart on the final green.

Walker Cup hopeful Cutler was two up at the turn, but lost his lead at the 14th before clinching victory with a birdie three at the last, where his six-iron approach shot finished six feet from the pin.

Cutler then powered his way to a 3&2 victory over Japan's Yuki Usami to make it through to a meeting this morning with South Korea's Jin Jeong, one of the leading players in the world amateur rankings. He was one down early on, but won the fifth and sixth holes to take a lead he was never to lose.

"It was solid match-play golf. When I came here, there were no real expectations. I had my mind on qualifying first and foremost and after that it has been a case of taking one game at a time," said Cutler, who has cemented his place in the St Andrews Trophy team with this week's series of performances.

Alan Dunbar, the reigning Irish stroke-play champion, from Rathmore, faced James Fox of Portmarnock in the third round and after a great battle, Dunbar came through 2&1.

Dunbar then met Frenchman Edouard Espana for a place in the quarter-finals and it was a ding-dong tussle, but, in the end, the Irishman slipped to defeat at the 19th.

Dunbar looked as though he might prevail when he was one up with four to play, but he lost the 15th.

He held a tricky five-footer at the 18th to keep the match alive, but Espana, using an iron off the tee at the extra hole, had pinpoint accuracy and squeezed home.

The last eight comprises players from each of the home countries as well as players from France, South Korea and Italy.

Irish Independent

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