Paul Cutler showed a welcome return to form to lead the Irish charge in the first qualifying round of the British Amateur Championship on the Lancashire coast yesterday.
The Portstewart star, anxious for a good performance this week to cement his place in the Walker Cup side to face the Americans in September, fired a one-over-par 72 at Hesketh yesterday.
Barring a disaster at nearby Hillside today, he will take his spot in the match-play phase.
He had back-to-back bogeys on six and seven as he got to the turn in 37 but he got his act together to birdie the 186-yard 11th and then after a succession of pars birdied the long 17th. Cutler dropped a stroke at the last but was still relieved to finish on 72.
"It has not been the best of seasons for me so far but now I feel good and determined to recover my form," he said.
Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge had a 74 at Hesketh. He should make it into the match-play stages.
Garth McGee of Malone also posted a 74, with a double-bogey six at the ninth.
Ballymena teenager Dermot McElroy took 78 and cannot afford slip-ups today. He suffered a double-bogey six at the third and had three bogeys on the bounce on the homeward half.
Headfort's Rory McNamara will also have to hold his nerve after a 78 at Hillside.
Mournes' Reeve Whitsun carded 75 at Hesketh, while Craig Martin had a 77 at Hillside and Rathmore's Alan Dunbar was a huge disappointment in taking 80 at Hillside.
Sean Ryan and Jeff Hopkins are seemingly on their way out after 84 and 83 respectively yesterday.
Carlow's John Greene came in with a 75 to be the best of the Irish at Hillside.
New Zealander Landyn Edwards leads the way at Hillside after a 68 and Adrian Otaegui also with a 68 tops the leaderboard at Hesketh by two.
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