| 13.7°C Belfast

Cutler heading west in hope of a final fling

Paul Cutler heads to Sligo for the West of Ireland Amateur Championship determined to add to his tally of Irish majors.

The Portstewart player is the reigning East of Ireland champion, triumphing last summer at Baltray.

“I’d love to win one or two more before turning professional,” he says.

“The West is always a great occasion, probably because of the players who’ve won it in the past, people like Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and, of course, Rory McIlroy.

“Definitely there’s at least one more win in me and I’d love to have two or three to my name,” he added.

Cutler, who plays off plus three, is pretty much the first name down on Ireland teamsheet for internationals these days.

And he starts the first amateur major of the year as one of the favourites, something he’s become accustomed to over the past year or so. He has the game to compete well at Rosses Point where the Easter weather usually packs a punch.

“I’ve grown up playing in the wind, so Rosses Point is a course I always enjoy,” he says.

“But these are difficult events to win, especially when it gets to the matchplay stages.

“In matchplay it all depends on who you are up against and how they play.

“You can play badly and win or play well and still lose. You never quite know how it’s going to work out.”

Cutler has recently graduated from the Junior Golf Academy at Greenmount, just outside Antrim, but is still a regular visitor to the campus to make use of the marvellous new practice facilities, opened by McIlroy last year.

“It really is great to have the use of Greenmount,” says Cutler.

“I’m there two or three times a week at least.

“The chipping green is fantastic and is really helping my short game.

“But they have the three holes there to play as well, which makes a big difference.”

Cutler is heading to the European tour’s Qualifying School at the end of the season and if he manages to secure his card, he will immediately make the switch to the professional game.

If he doesn’t make it — and it’s a tough ask over six rounds in Spain — he will carry on as an amateur for another year when he will be a leading candidate for a place on the Walker Cup team for Royal Aberdeen.

In the meantime a busy summer approaches with his defence of the East title again at Baltray in June, the North at Royal Portrush in July as well as continuing his international career.

Belfast Telegraph