Cutler ends Irish drought at Lytham Trophy

Paul Cutler won the Lytham Trophy on May 2.

Paul Cutler won the Lytham Trophy on May 2.

LYTHAM ST ANNES, England – Paul Cutler became the first Irish player in 28 years to win the Lytham Trophy when he ran away with a three-shot victory Sunday over Scotland’s Kris Nicol in the first major of the British amateur season.

In harsh conditions that blew away many in the final round, the 21-year-old from Portstewart, Northern Ireland, put his links experience to good use to become the first Irish player since Martin Sludds in 1982 to carry off the coveted trophy.

Cutler, 65th in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Player Rankings, equalled the lowest score of the final round with a 1-over-par 71 to finish at 4-over 284. Nicol closed in 74 after beginning the final round in a tie for the lead with Cutler.

“I’m very pleased to have won this,” Cutler said. “Conditions were tough out there but I had a good final round, especially a good back nine and that made the difference.”

The wind blew into Cutler’s face on the outward nine and he did well to make the turn in 2-over-par 37. He did even better over the final nine, however, making birdies at the 11th and 14th holes and just one bogey at the 13th.

Cutler was part of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup squad last year but did not play well enough last season to make the 10-man team that made the trip to Merion. Indeed, he missed the cut in the Lytham last year and spent the final two rounds caddying for close friend Shane Lowry. He helped Lowry to a third-place finish, and that experience helped him this time around.

“Caddying for Shane last year was good fun but I just think I’ve matured to play in these big tournaments,” said Cutler. “I was a bit inexperienced last year.”

Cutler would be a good bet to make next year’s GB&I Walker Cup team, but he wants to follow Lowry and other friend Rory McIlroy, who won his first PGA Tour event Sunday at the Quail Hollow Championship with a final-round 62, into the professional ranks. Cutler will try for his European Tour card at the end of the season.

Cutler also continues a fine run of Irish amateur golf in the past 12 months. Lowry became only the second amateur to win on the European Tour when he won the Irish Open last year. Niall Kearney captured the Brabazon Trophy, while Alan Dunbar won the St. Andrews Links Trophy.

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