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Cutler Fights Back at East of Ireland

BALTRAY, IRELAND (May 31, 2009)--Portstewart’s Paul Cutler took a small step towards claiming a dream place in the Walker Cup side to face the USA later this year when he shrugged off a mid-round stumble to claim a wire-to-wire win in the East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Baltray.

Just eight weeks after he suffered a cracked knuckle in a street attack he feared would end his hopes of making the Great Britain and Ireland side to travel to Pennsylvania this September, the 20-year old international carded rounds of 72 and 71 on a sun-soaked final day to win by two strokes from Moyola Park’s Luke Lennox with a four round aggregate of four-under par 284.

A member of the Irish side that claimed the European Team Championships and the Home Internationals last year, he fully deserved his win after giving an almost faultless display of golf from tee to green over three days.

Set to tee it up in the Irish Close at Enniscrone on Saturday before tackling the British Amateur Championship at Formby in Lancashire from June 15-20, Cutler is hoping that Irish Walker Cup selector Mark Gannon was impressed by what he saw at County Louth this week.

“I know I will have to do more to make the Walker Cup side but this should help. Hopefully this will get the attention of the selectors because the Walker Cup is a big target for me,” Cutler said.

His victory looked unlikely eight weeks ago as he sat with his right arm in plaster up to the elbow following a street attack in Portstewart that forced him to miss the West of Ireland championship.

“It was a frightening experience and I was quite lucky that I managed to get up and get away before they did any more damage,” Cutler revealed. “I thought it would be a setback but I wasn’t expecting this to be honest.

“It’s a great year to win a championship with the Walker Cup coming up. It might not be that big a win in other circles but it is great to win one.”

Cutler and Portmarnock’s James Fox led the field after the first two rounds. But the Dubliner’s hopes of emulating his brother Noel, a three-time winner, evaporated when he signed for a wretched 79 in the third round.

Cutler shot a level par 72 to remain on three under par but was joined on that mark by 19 year old international squad member Lennox, who hit a one under par 71 in the same three ball.

“I knew I had a good chance going out this morning and just thought I had to play the way I had been playing for the first couple of days,” Cutler said. “I was happy to see I was playing with Luke so I would know who I had to beat. He was playing well this morning and I thought he would be very hard to beat.”

The pair were three strokes clear of defending champion Eoin Arthurs, Knock’s Nicky Grant, the Island’s James Monaghan and Mullingar’s Dessie Morgan with a round to play but it soon became a two horse race.

Cutler played the front nine in two under par with birdies at the third and sixth and found himself four strokes clear of an often wayward Lennox, who sandwiched a birdie at the sixth between bogeys at the first and ninth to slip back to one under par.

Three holes later Cutler’s lead had shrunk to just one stroke. At the 11th, Lennox drove 20 yards into the right rough but fired a brilliant approach to eight feet and holed the birdie putt to cut the gap to two.

Both men carved their approaches into the deep rough right of the 12th but while Cutler failed to get out first time and took a double bogey six, Lennox played a brilliant recovery to four feet and saved par to get within a shot of the lead

A sliced tee shot at the 13th cost Lennox a shot, however, and with a two stroke cushion, Cutler pressed home his advantage at the 167-yard 15th, where he hit an eight iron to six feet and holed the putt to go three ahead on four under par.

Lennox parred the 16th and got up and down for another par at the 17th before nicking back a shot at the last, where he holed a 40 footer from a swale right of the green after both men had been forced to lay up after driving into sand.

Athlone’s Kelan McDonagh, a 19 year old student a NUI Maynooth on a Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship, claimed third place on level par 288 after rounds of 72 and 71 yesterday.

Newlands’ international Cian Curley, another Harrington scholarship boy, was fourth on two over par with Dessie Morgan forced to settle for fifth place after a 75 that threatened to be so much better.

The Mullingar man was one under par through the turn but a bogey at the 11th, where he overshot the green with a four iron from the middle of the fairway, led to a bogey he followed with a costly double at the next.

East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship, Co. Louth GC

Final

1 284 P Cutler (Portstewart) 69 72 72 71

2 286 L Lennox (Moyola Park) 72 70 71 73

3 288 K McDonagh (Athlone) 76 69 72 71

4 290 C Curley (Newlands) 73 72 74 71

5 291 D Morgan (Mullingar) 71 74 71 75

6 293 P Dunne (Greystones) 76 73 72 72, C Doran (Banbridge) 74 71 78 70, S Crowe (Dunmurry) 73 70 75 75, N Grant (Knock) 72 75 69 77

10 294 J Carvill (Warrenpoint) 75 75 73 71, E Arthurs (Forrest Little) 74 69 73 78, J Monaghan (The Island) 72 72 72 78, J Fox (Portmarnock) 69 72 79 74

14 295 A Dunbar (Rathmore) 75 69 75 76

15 296 G O'Flaherty (Cork) 77 73 74 72, D Beattie (Whitehead) 76 72 72 76, R Cannon (Laytown & Bettystown) 75 72 75 74, N Kearney (The Royal Dublin) 74 75 72 75, D Crowe (Dunmurry) 71 77 72 76

20 297 D Lernihan (Castle) 76 71 75 75, A Morris (Belvoir Park) 70 78 75 74

22 298 G Kelly (Co. Louth) 73 74 77 74, D Reilly (Westmanstown) 73 72 76 77

24 299 F Rafferty (Dungannon) 73 76 76 74, J Hopkins (Skerries) 72 74 76 77

26 300 G McGee (Malone) 78 72 71 79, C Hughes (Royal Portrush) 75 75 75 75, A McCormick (Scrabo) 73 73 79 75

29 301 R McConnell (Belvoir Park) 74 73 76 78, S Power (West Waterford) 74 72 74 81, G McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 73 77 79 72, N Beirth (Co. Louth) 71 76 79 75

33 302 D Finn (Mallow) 76 74 78 74

34 303 N Goulding (Portmarnock) 75 73 79 76, S Loftus (Lahinch) 74 76 77 76, D Carroll (Grange) 73 75 75 80

37 305 K Egan (Curragh) 74 75 75 81, C Drumm (Rosslare) 73 76 74 82

39 306 C Selfridge (Moyola Park) 74 75 80 77, G Bohill (Co. Louth) 73 74 78 81, M Brett (Portmarnock) 72 78 78 78

42 307 J McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) 78 71 79 79, K Canty (Douglas) 74 74 80 79

44 308 K Condren (Greystones) 74 76 79 79

45 309 L Brady (The Royal Dublin) 77 74 76 82, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 74 76 81 78

47 310 R Weldon (Luttrellstown Castle) 80 70 78 82, D Leathem (Lisburn) 77 73 78 82, A Smith (The Island) 77 72 77 84

50 312 D O'Donovan (Muskerry) 72 76 81 83

RT S Morrison (City of Derry) 74 76 77 RT
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