“IT is hard to believe really, just to think about this win is unbelievable.”
That was the initial reaction from Mallow’s James Sugrue after winning the Amateur Championship in Portmarnock. On Saturday, James reached the final and after 36 nail-biting holes, he won the famous title on the 18th green.
A crowd of over 3,000 people – the biggest ever to watch an Amateur Championship final lined the greens and fairways, and there was huge support from Mallow Golf Club with over 100 members and friends there at 8.30am for the first tee shot.
The 22-year-old now adds the Amateur Championship to his list of wins which includes the 2017 South of Ireland. Sugrue played some brilliant golf in the final, going under par in both rounds despite the immense pressure of the occasion.
After a blistering start he was five up after nine holes. His opponent Euan Walker fought back on the back nine and won two holes. Just before lunch it looked like Sugrue would go five up again on the 18th. But a mistake followed by a great putt from Walker meant that Sugrue started the second round three up.
While he may have been disappointed coming off the 18th green, he still had a big lead. James held the margin at the start of the second round, but on the back nine again Walker applied huge pressure.
He got it back to all square on the 15th, but Sugrue along with his caddy Conor Dowling maintained their composure. Sugrue won the 17th where he was very strong all week, and he parred the 18th to secure the historic win.
“I was very worried when it went back to all square, very worried. Euan is just that type of player where he doesn’t really hit bad shots.
"He has got a beautiful swing and very rarely hits bad shots. I wasn’t expecting to be given holes. Sometimes you can keep plodding away against other players and they will slip up eventually, but Euan not so much.
"I had to create opportunities myself and thankfully it worked.”
Bandon’s John Carroll is the Irish Captain, and he made the decision to remove Sugrue from the Irish team that left for Austria yesterday for the European Championships.
While he does have this week off, Sugrue’s schedule for this year and next has changed dramatically. Portrush, Liverpool, Augusta and New Jersey were all added to his schedule.
As a result of the win, James will play in three Majors over the next 10 months, and his selection for the Walker Cup in Liverpool is virtually assured.