IT was the stuff that golfing dreams are made of, as Mallow’s James Sugrue teed off in the first group at the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
With a huge number of supporters from Mallow, Sugrue teed off the first at 6.37am, the first Corkman to compete in an Open Championship since Ballydesmond’s Eoghan O’Connell in 1987.
In fact, he’s just the fourth Cork golfer to play in an Open, O’Connell along with Jimmy Bruen and Liam Higgins are the only other Leeside golfers to tee it up at the famous major.
And it got even better for the 22-year-old, he parred the first and birdied the second to grab a share of the lead.
Granted there were only six players on the course, and it was just the second hole of a 72-hole tournament, but it was a nice stat none the less.
James’ parents Margaret and Michael, sister Michelle and brother Edward along with his girlfriend Christina all had front row seats in the grandstand, and James didn’t disappoint with his opening drive going straight down the middle.
With his friend Conor Dowling on the bag, the pair strolled down the fairway, just as casually as if they were playing together in Mallow Golf Club.
Sugrue birdied the sixth to get to -2, and on the eighth hole, he was again tied for the lead. As the morning continued he held the lead again on the 10th and 12th as the leaderboard changed.
The closing holes were tougher for Sugrue, two bogies on 16 and 17 saw him finish on level par. That puts the amateur in a good position to make the cut. He can have a bit of a lie-in, he’s out at 11.36 playing with Darren Clarke and Charlie Hoffmann again.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Sugrue, and there’s more to come. He’s has a training camp with the Walker Cup team early next week and from there it’s straight on the Lahinch for the South of Ireland, where he’s looking to add to the title he won back in 2017.