"Paul used to give me a lift to Banchory Golf Club when he was an assistant there in the late 1980s," reflected Hutcheon. "I was a 14-year-old dogsbody in the pro shop." Yesterday, in the second round of the Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside, it was the former dogsbody who emerged as top dog. In the company of the decorated tournament host, Hutcheon pieced together a colourful four-under-par 66 for a six-under 134 which left him a stroke clear of his closest challengers, Gareth Wright and Greg McBain, and four ahead of Lawrie with one round to play.
It was eventful stuff from Hutcheon in the Aberdeen sunshine. He salvaged a birdie from the trees on the ninth, chipped in from some 40 feet on the 15th and then, amid confusing scenes on the 18th green, came within a whisker of clattering playing partner Graham Fox's ball when the pair hit their third shots almost simultaneously.
"I didn't realise that Graham was just off the green too and it was him to play first," explained the 39-year-old, who has already captured the Tartan Tour's order of merit for a fourth time. "I was focusing that much on my own shot."
Hutcheon was certainly wrapped up in his own thoughts on that occasion but the triple European Challenge Tour winner will readily admit that the steely focus shown there has not always been evident down the years. "Concentration is the thing," added the player who had regular flirtations with the European Tour but never managed to establish a long-standing relationship with the main circuit. "Tour players have that intensity and focus; I had a habit of getting put off easily."
Wright, winner of the British Club Professionals' Championship earlier this season, and former Scottish Young Professionals' champion McBain, lurk on 135 after a 67 and a 68 respectively while Paul O'Hara thrust himself into contention with a 66 for 137.
From being Scotland's No.1 amateur in 2009, the Colville Park man has found the professional life tough. Despite having won on the third-tier EPD Tour during his rookie season in 2010, the 25-year-old's fortunes and finances have taken a turn for the worse and has led to him reassessing his career.
"This is my first event for five months," said O'Hara, who was a runner-up in three Scottish Amateur Championships. "It just got so expensive and I would've been better sticking my entry fee on something at the bookies. I was No.1 in Scotland and a Walker Cup reserve three years ago and now nothing. It's my own fault. I've not played well enough but now I'm looking at doing my PGA training and playing on the Tartan Tour."
O'Hara was joined on the three-under mark by Scott Henderson and the sprightly Bishopbriggs veteran Robert Arnott, who roared up the field with a fine 65, illuminated by a chip in from 25 feet for birdie on the second. He may be a year shy of his half-century but Arnott's competitive fires continue to burn brightly.
The former PGA Cup player has racked up six wins on the domestic circuit this season – it has taken his career total to 60 – and is pondering a new challenge next year with an assault on the European Senior Tour. "I'm trying to work out if I'm getting better or the rest of the boys are just getting worse," said the 49-year-old with a smile.
As for event host Lawrie, a two-under 68 gave him a 138 and a share of seventh. "This was better than yesterday, and yesterday's round was better than the Pro-Am," said the Ryder Cup recruit as he continued to shake off the rustiness from three weeks off. "It's getting there." The rest have been warned.
Day 2 scoreboard
Tartan Tour, Paul Lawrie Invitational, Deeside GC, Haughton course (Par 70) Deeside (*denotes amateur)
Rd 2. 134 G Hutcheon (Banchory) 68 66
135 G Wright (West Linton) 68 67, G McBain (Gamola Golf) 67 68
137 R Arnott (Bishopbriggs Golf Range) 72 65, P O'Hara (Colville Park) 71 66, S Henderson (Kings Links) 69 68
138 G Fox (Rowallan Castle) 69 69, P Lawrie (The Carnegie Club) 70 68, C Kelly (Cawder) 69 69, J Findlay (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) 67 71
140 D Orr (Mearns Castle Golf Academy) 70 70, T Mathieson (Murcar Links) 65 75
141 A Lockhart (Ladybank) 72 69, J McCreadie (Buchanan Castle) 73 68
142 K Nicol (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) 72 70, P Walker (Ballumbie Castle) 71 71, * P Shields (Kirkhill) 69 73
143 * G Robertson (Glenbervie) 72 71, K McNicoll (Gullane) 71 72, C Ronald (Carluke) 71 72, * S Borrowman (Dollar) 74 69
144 J McGhee (Duddingston) 73 71, D Wood (Hirsel) 74 70, D Law (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) 73 71, G Dear (Murrayshall) 76 68, M Kerr (unattached) 73 71
145 C Robinson (Dumfries & Galloway) 73 72, C Currie (Caldwell) 74 71, J Lomas (unattached) 71 74, G Brown (Montrose Golf Links) 72 73, * J White (Lundin) 72 73, P Wardell (Whitekirk) 77 68, R Cameron (McDonald) 74 71
Missed cut. 146 P McLean (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) 73 73, A Crerar (Panmure) 72 74, K Hutton (Downfield) 74 72 147 C West (Scotscraig) 76 71 148 M Isaacs (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) 72 76, J Gallagher (Turnhouse) 73 75 149 C McCalman (Turnhouse) 73 76, D Patrick (Elie Sports Centre) 76 73, J Mackay (North Gailes Golf Centre) 77 72, N Fenwick (Dunbar) 76 73, R Dixon (Renaissance) 74 75 150 M King (Kingsfield Golf Range) 77 73, * C Lawrie (Deeside) 73 77, M Patterson (Kilmacolm) 79 71 151 P Betty (Hamilton) 76 75, M Lawrence (Newmachar) 77 74 152 T Dingwall (Nairn Dunbar) 76 76, S Taylor (Bothwell Castle) 78 74, G Hillson (Dunbar) 77 75 153 I Bratton (Newburgh on Ythan) 76 77, D Kenny (unattached) 73 80 154 S Gray (Hayston) 78 76, R McConnachie (Peterculter) 77 77, I Colquhoun (Dundonald Links) 75 79 155 P Smith (Deeside) 78 77 156 * C O'Neil (Pollok) 77 79, G Forbes (unattached) 79 77 158 P Robinson (Largs) 76 82, D Thomson (The Carnegie Club) 73 85 159 S Williamson (West Kilbride) 81 78 166 G Nethercott (Deeside) 85 81. Rtd: P McKechnie (Braid Hills)
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