Mallow’s James Sugrue became the eighth Irish winner of the Amateur Championship, when clinching a one stroke victory over Scotland’s Euan Walker at Portmarnock today.
In an exciting 36-hole final, the Irish golfer was five up after nine holes but was forced to survive Walker’s comeback to all square before clinching a one-hole win on the final green.
Sugrue’s fast start and sharp short game skills proved key as the Mallow member became the first Irish player to win the famous title since Alan Dunbar in 2012.
As a result of Saturday’s win, the 22-year-old now has exemptions into The 148th British Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
Ranked 231st on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Sugrue was never behind against Walker as he came out on top of the 288-player international field who assembled at Portmarnock for only the club’s second ever staging of the championship.
Sugrue made a superb start in the sunshine against his fellow Walker Cup squad member, as a birdie at the 2nd was sandwiched between two bogeys from twenty-threeyear-old Walker, as the Irishman won the first three holes.
After Walker three-putted the short 7th Sugrue moved four ahead and arrowed his approach to a foot at the 9th to extend his lead to five after playing the front nine in three under par. The Scot’s birdie at the 10th saw him win his first hole of the final, before further reducing the deficit to three with another birdie at the par-5 13th.
The Kilmarnock (Barassie) player, ranked 71st in the world, remained three down after the morning session, but after Sugrue went four up at the 20th the Scot launched his fightback after winning the next two holes.
Sugrue, who has enjoyed five top-20 finishes this year, claimed the 24th but his advantage was cut to just one hole after Walker’s birdie at the 26th. The Irishman responded with a birdie at the 28th to go two ahead again, but the battling Scot refused to go away. He won the 31st with a birdie and then squared the contest at the 33rd after Sugrue’s bogey.
However, willed on by the home fans, Sugrue won the 35th with a par after Walker found trouble off the tee and sealed victory at the last when his opponent again pushed his tee shot right and failed with two putts from the back of the green.
“It is hard to believe really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable” admitted Sugrue. “Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible. I’m just kind of happy I did it for the crowds, really, as I didn’t want all those people who came out to support me to see me end up losing. It’s more relief than anything else really to get over the line, especially after being three up going into the afternoon session. I’m just delighted to do it.”