James Sugrue’s never-say-die attitude nets British Amateur title

Luke Walker/Getty Images

James Sugrue’s never-say-die attitude nets British Amateur title

Golf

James Sugrue’s never-say-die attitude nets British Amateur title

By

James Sugrue could have a good professional career if the never-say-die attitude that helped him win the British Amateur Championship is a harbinger.

The 22-year-old Sugrue, a County Cork native, became the eighth Irish winner of the British Amateur when he defeated Scotland’s Euan Walker by one hole at Portmarnock Golf Club.

“It is hard to believe really,” Sugrue said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable.”

Sugrue arguably should never have made it as far as the final, or even the match-play rounds.

The member of Mallow Golf Club, Sugrue didn’t get off to the best of starts in the championship when he opened 36-hole qualifying with a 77 at Portmarnock. He rebounded in Round 2 with a 2-under 69 at The Island Golf Club to make the match-play field.

Both Sugrue’s opening two matches went to the 18th hole. He had an easier time in his third match with a 5&3 victory over Spain’s Sergio Parriego. However, he only got past Dutchman Koen Kouwenaar courtesy of his refusal to accept defeat.

Sugrue was one down with two to play but got up and down from a fairway bunker on the 17th to salvage a half. He then holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th to take the match to extra holes. He won the 19th with a steady par to advance to the semifinals.

Sugrue went up against the highest-ranked player in the match-play rounds when he faced the No. 7-ranked amateur in the world in David Micheluzzi. It looked like a mismatch on paper with the Irishman ranked 224 positions below the Australian in 231st. Yet Sugrue ran out a 3&1 winner.

The Irishman showed his resilience again in the final in front of a large patriotic gallery. Five up after nine holes of the 36-hole contest, Sugrue found himself pegged back to all square after 33 holes. He won the 35th to take an all-important advantage to the last and hung to win despite bogeying they hole.

“I was very worried when it went back to all square, very worried,” added Sugrue. “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.”

Sugrue earned a spot in the British Open at Royal Portrush starting July 18, an invitation to next year’s Masters and a place in the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He will also play in the Walker Cup against the United States September 7-8.

“I can’t wait. It’s unreal. I’m really looking forward to it. I love Royal Portrush, it’s probably one of my favourite links courses, second favourite to Portmarnock. With the other major championship opportunities, it’s incredible to think about it. I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home