Walker Cup prospect Paul Cutler believes he can match Shane Lowry and win the Irish Open as an amateur.
The Portstewart star, 22, birdied two of his last three holes for a sizzling 67 that left him in the thick of the action, just four shots off the lead on six under par.
Amazed to be in contention, Cutler said: “It feels unbelievable to be honest. It’s wild beyond expectations to be fair. I just came here to try and make the cut but it’s a great position to be in.
“There’s a few amateurs that have won so it is possible to do. I just have to keep going but there is a long way to go yet and a lot of good players in this field as well.
“I’m very pleased so far but I just have to keep firing away over the next two days to see where I can get to.”
Victory is not out of the question and Cutler is well aware that Lowry became just the third amateur to win on the European Tour when he claimed the Irish Open in a play-off at Baltray two years ago.
But while he didn’t wait for the Walker Cup, Cutler now looks certain to make the Great Britain and Ireland side to face the USA in September.
He raced to the turn in two under thanks to birdies at the third, sixth and ninth before coming home in 34 with birdies at the 16th and 18th.
Set to try for his tour card in the autumn, he’s been inspired by Lowry and former Irish team mate Rory McIlroy.
On Rory, he said: “It’s unbelievable. He was playing with us four, five years ago in the amateur events and now he’s won the U.S. Open, so he’s a great inspiration. He’s a special talent.”
He knows that he could get disctracted by the atmosphere over the weekend but feels prepared to stay focussed on his game.
He said: “I’ll just stick to what I’ve been doing, try not to get caught up in the atmosphere too much and just take each shot as it comes.”