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'It's frightening really': A world of opportunity awaits amateur champion Sugrue

The 22-year-old clinched a stunning victory at the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock on Saturday.

Sugrue celebrates his victory at Portmarnock.
Sugrue celebrates his victory at Portmarnock.
Image: Luke Walker/R&A

THERE WERE GLORIOUSLY intoxicating scenes on the 18th green at Portmarnock on Saturday teatime, as James Sugrue — the 22-year-old from Mallow — etched his name onto an illustrious honours board by clinching the Amateur Championship.

Sugrue, in defeating Scotland’s Euan Walker in a thrilling 36-hole final on the north Dublin links, became the eighth Irishman to win the prestigious title, and the first since Alan Dunbar lifted it at Royal Troon in 2012.

In addition to the prestige of joining a list of past champions that include José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia, Sugrue has punched his ticket to the next three Majors on the golfing calendar, starting with next month’s Open at Royal Portrush.

The 2020 Masters and US Open then await for the Cork golfer, who also likely earns an automatic place on the British and Irish Walker Cup team for his weekend exploits, which captivated huge crowds at Portmarnock. 

In demonstrating remarkable powers of resilience throughout the week to firstly come through the strokeplay rounds and then qualify for the matchplay final, Sugrue — ranked 231st in the world amateur rankings — dug deep to secure victory over Walker on the final hole. 

“It is hard to believe really,” he said afterwards.

gettyimages-1157627674-594x594 Sugrue becomes the eighth Irish winner of the Amateur Championship. Source: Luke Walker/R&A

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable. Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible.

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“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.”

On receiving exemptions for the next three Majors, Sugrue continued: “The things that come with it are frightening so I’m really looking forward to getting going for the rest of the season. 

“A lot of pros could go their whole career without playing in a Major and now I get to play in three of them. It’s unreal, to even say it, just sounds weird. 

“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 and I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead.”

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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