Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cutler's class puts him at home with big guns

Karl MacGinty

GIFTED amateur Paul Cutler has hurtled off the same amateur production line as Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry to post a phenomenal performance at the Irish Open.

Cutler (22) showed his true class during an accomplished second round 67 which lifted him into a share of 11th place on six-under, giving the Portstewart prospect a chance to emulate Lowry's sensational 2009 Irish Open success as an amateur.

Among those tied with the Walker Cup hopeful, just four off Marcel Siem's lead, are seasoned professionals Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Michael Hoey, all of whom know how to win on Tour.

Cutler, who followed up on last year's Lytham Trophy victory by winning the 2011 West of Ireland and Irish Close, had hoped to make the cut in his second Irish Open.

"This is unbelievable, to be honest," he said, "beyond my wildest expectations."

Yet from the moment Cutler landed a spectacular eagle two on the first hole of Thursday's splendid 69, he looked capable of making a serious impact.

After struggling off the tee in the first round, Cutler surely "got it sorted" yesterday, while his iron play was spectacular as he hit 17 greens in regulation.

Planning to go to Tour Q-School after September's Walker Cup, Cutler showed professional potential with his fifth birdie of the day on 18, finding mid-fairway with his hybrid before wielding the same club brilliantly as he hit the 220-yard approach into wind to five feet.

Padraig Harrington looked on in admiration as his playing companion McGrane surged into the reckoning with a second round 67. A string of four-successive birdies posted by the Kells man through the turn were reminiscent of Ireland's three-times Major-winner at his best.

"There must have been holy water falling on my head," quipped McGrane as he explained how he'd holed a 40 foot putt for birdie at eight and chipped in for another at nine to help illuminate an otherwise frustrating season.

Harrington confessed he'd thought "I used to do that one day" as those chances dropped.

After Thursday's 73, a double-bogey at the gruelling par-three sixth and a bogey at the long seventh "knocked the stuffing out of" Harrington and a one-over-par 72 left him four strokes outside the cut on three-over.

"No doubt, changes are required," said the exasperated Dubliner as he came to terms with his sixth missed cut in 17 events in 2011. "I'm doing everything I did to win three Majors, but I need a spark, something fresh, instead of doing the same old things every day."

Today's Tee-times

7.50 Murray; 7.59 Webster, Coles. 8.08 Echenique, Kelly; 8.17 Lafeber, Luiten; 8.26 Sjoholm, Ferrie; 8.35 Drysdale, Fisher; 8.44 Whiteford, Goya; 8.53 Saltman, Dinwiddie.

9.07 Horne, Davies; 9.16 Fritsch, Fraser; 9.25 Tullo, Floren; 9.34 Thornton, Derksen; 9.43 Kapur, Cañizares; 9.52 Kaleka, Van Zyl.

10.01 Dixon, Cevaer; 10.10 Foster, Parry; 10.19 Khan, Moriarty; 10.28 Fasth, Bland; 10.42 Morrison, Haines; 10.51 Brown, Wall;.

11.0 Wattel, McDowell; 11.09 McIlroy, Howell; 11.18 Olesen, Aguilar; 11.27 Donaldson, Brier; 11.36 Gallacher, Lane; 11.50 Boyd, Ramsay; 11.59 Gagli, Nilsson.

12.08 Wiesberger, Hoey; 12.17 Lemke, Lawrie; 12.26 Horsey, Del Moral; 12.35 McGrane, Cutler (am); 12.44 Wilson, Green; 12.58 Dyson, Fisher.

1.07 Jacquelin, Wakefield; 1.16 Garrido, Hansen; 1.25 Singh, Siem.

Golf on television

Irish Open,

Live, RTE1 1.40 and Sky Sports 2 , 1.30 Greenbrier Classic,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0

US Senior Open,

Live Sky Sports 3, 11.0

British Women's Open

Live, BBC1, 3.20; BBC2 5.10

Irish Independent

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