There was a nice symmetry to James Sugrue’s golfing summer. On Sunday last he won the John Whyte Fermoy Senior Scratch Cup to close out the season, that followed his win in Fota Island at the start of the season when he won the very first Senior Scratch Cup to be played in Cork. The two wins may be highlights, but to be fair the Mallow golfer has had a very impressive summer of golf which was recognised last month with his selection to the Irish team. Sugrue joined the Irish Mens panel this year and represented the Irish selection at the South African and Spanish Amateurs in the early season. His full cap finally came when he was selected to play for the Home Internationals which took place last week. Capped on multiple occasions in Boy’s golf, this was a big step up for Sugrue but one he took in his stride. The easy going 20 year old went on to win four matches as Ireland finished as runners-up in the four team tournament. “There was actually no real difference, I didn’t feel as if I was under any extra pressure. I know all the lads and I know Neil Manchip for a long time as well” said James. “I was really happy with the way I played down the stretch in a few matches. In the opening foursomes we were two up with three to play and I hit an approach to around six inches to close out the match. On the second day I had a four iron on a par three into the wind, and I managed to get it to inside a foot to close out that match.” You can feel the confidence in Sugrue as he tells that story. There was another incident when his opponent was involved in a ruling, Sugrue stood his ground where previously he may have stepped back and allowed the opponent get an upper hand. And although he has two wins this year, he wouldn’t go beyond describing the year as ‘solid’. “It was a fairly good season to be honest, it was very solid and that’s what I wanted” said the Mallow Man. “Last year would have a been a poor year outside of the South so I was much happier to play solidly throughout the year. My focus this year was to build on the work from last year. Winning last year gave me a fair bit of confidence and bringing that through to this year was important. Previously I struggled with shooting a very low number, but this year when I got to eight under in Baltray it felt great, and I went on to shoot a few more deep scores after that. It definitely helped with my confidence.” Deep scores, those in the mid 60’s are gamechangers and Sugrue had a share of them this season. That eight under par 64 in Co Louth was followed by a 68 in the North in tough conditions at Portrush, and a 66 in the South at Lahinch. And even when the scoring was little higher Sugrue was able to make it count. At the Irish Close in Wicklow he shot rounds of 73/74 but still finished in the top 20 in a field of over 130 golfers. In matchplay he was consistent also, reaching the final 32 in the British Amateur and the North of Ireland, while reaching the final 16 in the South and the Irish Close. He recorded three wins and a half as part of the winning Munster team at the Interpro’s, and last week he had four wins and a half in green when Ireland were narrowly beaten in the Home Internationals. While he might have had hopes of retaining his South of Ireland title, the odds were against him. It’s over 50 years since anyone retained the famous trophy. Although he didn’t win, Sugrue reached the final 16, meaning he won eight matches on the trot over the two years. It was that sort of consistency that his rise over 400 places in the amateur rankings. Among other events, cuts made at the British Amateur, the North, South and Close saw his WAGR ranking jump from 960 to a career high placing of 538.
Sunday’s win was a second in two years for James Sugrue, having previously won the John Whyte Senior Scratch Cup in 2016. James was quick to praise the event and the course. “The course was in great condition, the greens were super with a few tricky pins” said the winner. “It was a very well organised event with a great meal afterwards.” Sugrue also took home a generous first prize, a reward for his one under par 69 which beat Kinsale’s Cathal Butler by one shot. Sugrue turned on +1 but birdies on the 10th and 11th got him into the red. Cork’s Mark Ford was unlucky, he was three under at one stage but had trouble on the closing holes and finished in third place on level par. Ray Hurley took the nett prize with 69. Overall the competition, which is one of the last scratch cups of the year, was well attended with most of the field complementing the course and the steak dinner which was included.
Fermoy has been a busy place this summer, as well the club and open competitions they also hosted several large classics and events, including qualifiers for the Jimmy Bruen Shield. The course was back hosting a Munster event yesterday, hosting the South Munster qualifiers for the Irish Schools senior championship, and they’ll host the Schools junior championship next week. The club have open singles next Monday and Tuesday, and there’s plenty of time available for green fee’s over the coming weeks if golfers fancy taking on the par 70 parkland course before the autumn weather sets in. The staff and members of Fermoy worked hard all summer to ensure the course looked it’s best and that conditioning has lasted into September. The course was awarded a gold distinction by Destination Golf magazine earlier this year, and it has regularly been ranked as a hidden gem by the Golfers Guide.