IT mightn’t have been quite the Masters experience he was expecting, but James Sugrue can look back on his week in Augusta with pride.
Although he didn’t have friends and family with him to share the experience, he will have many memories.
Birdies on several of the signature holes, 300 yard drives and even a ball into the water in Raes Creek told the story of an unforgettable experience at golf’s most famous major.
The Mallow man become the first golfer from Cork to compete at the Masters, and he was just the 6th Irish amateur to be invited to play.
Although he missed the cut, Sugrue set a new benchmark for Irish amateurs, he was the first amateur from GB&I to shoot a round under par.
His second round 71 was a great way to overcome the disappointment of his opening round.
Michael Collins was the only person to travel with James, the PGA Pro has coached James for 12 years and he was really upbeat after the second round.
“In round two James played superb golf,” said Collins in his online report from day two.
“When he got to 3 under for the round, the way he was playing, I really felt he could go on to shoot 6 or 7 under.
"The next 4 holes proved critical, a missed short putt on 9 for par, slightly too much speed on the 12ft birdie putt on 10 and a roll short with his birdie putt on 11 after a brilliant approach from the right trees just stalled his momentum.”
And that lack of luck would hit Sugrue again on the signature 12th hole when a notorious change of wind saw his ball drop in the water resulting in a double bogey to go back to level par.
Collins was quick to praise his star student as he fought back from the disappointment of that setback.
“He gathered himself well and birdied 13, thanks to a bit of luck with his ball sticking on the bank for his second shot, and also birdied 16 with an excellent 8 iron and putt.
"His shot of the day was probably his 6 iron second shot on 18 from 172 metres up the hill, straight over the flag. While his one under 71 was a brilliant score, it could have been anything.
"Considering he hasn't had a tournament since the Irish open due to Covid, it was a great performance.”
While Sugrue hasn’t announced any date to turn professional, it’s likely that the Masters was his last tournament as an amateur.
Having played in three Majors, two European Tour events and a Walker Cup, Sugrue will be looking forward to competing at the highest level alongside tour professionals as he embarks on a career in the paid ranks.