James Sugrue starts 2021 on top of the European amateur rankings, the Mallow man was confirmed as the leading amateur on the European Golf Association rankings. In addition to the EGA ranking, Sugrue also reached a high point of 5th on the World Amateur Golf Rankings last week. While it’s unclear if Sugrue will tee it up in any further amateur competitions, his standing as an elite amateur is something to remember as he turns towards a career as a tour professional.
Having made the decision to compete on the professional circuit in 2021, Sugrue will have lots to look back on in his amateur career. He was a solid performer in team golf, representing Mallow, Munster and Ireland from 2012 when he earned his first Irish Boys cap. He was part of the winning team at the Boys Home Internationals in 2013, and won 12 of his 21 matches over his three years. He settled into the Irish Mens team quickly in 2018 when he won four of his six matches at the Home Internationals. In addition to representing Ireland, Sugrue also made the 2019 Walker Cup team that played in Royal Liverpool. As an individual, Sugrue picked up important wins at all levels. His first big win came when won the Munster Youths when he was just 17, and he won the prestigious South of Ireland in 2017 when Lahinch celebrated its 125th anniversary. Sugrue’s greatest win to date came in Portmarnock in 2019 when the Dublin club hosted the Amateur Championship. That win led him to receive invitation to play in three majors over 2019 and 2020.
As he’s only turning professional this year, James will not have any exemptions or playing rights on Challenge Tour or other development tours. That said, with his stellar amateur successes and his ranking, he should receive a number of invites on different tours. Sugrue will be hoping for several starts on the Challenge Tour, although he’s likely to miss the first three events which are scheduled for South Africa next month. The full schedule hasn’t been released but it’s likely that Sugrue will have started his tour career by the time the first events are held in Europe. James is currently finalising his management arrangements and this should give him further chances of Challenge Tour appearances. Sugrue also has every chance of being named in the 2021 Team Ireland roster. The Sport Ireland backed initiative aims to back young golfers hoping to make it on the main international tours. Since 1999 Team Ireland has backed over 100 Irish golfers as they start their careers on tour. As well as financial backing, Team Ireland Golf is also instrumental in securing Challenge Tour starts for many of the successful applicants.
Although his opportunities were limited in 2020, Sugrue did manage to tee it up in four professional tournaments. In addition to the US Open in New York and the Masters Tournament in Augusta National, he also played in the Oman Open and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. The Irish Open was the first professional event where Sugrue made the cut, and it signalled a strong progression in his game as he prepares for a full season on tour.
O’Keeffe Online with Golf Fitness Classes
With courses still closed, and no certainty on a re-opening date, many golfers are practicing at home and some are working on their fitness. Peter O’Keeffe continues to develop his career as a golf fitness coach. The 2017 Irish Amateur Open champion recently moved into a new custom gym onsite in Douglas Golf Club, providing golfers with a start of the art facility dedicated to golf fitness. While the gym is closed to clients at present, it is now doubling as studio for Peter’s online classes. The lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 have allowed O’Keeffe to reach a much wider audience with his online classes, and his daily instgram videos give everyone a taster for the golf specific exercises that Peter covers. In 2020 Peter worked from a temporary studio, but now he has a permanent and very professional set-up from his new gym. The Irish International is starting a new series of junior golf fitness classes this weekend, and with group and individual training options available for adults and juniors, everyone has the opportunity to work on their fitness before the courses reopen. Details are available on Peter’s social media channels.