Sugrue sets his sights on Sweden

James Sugrue

“I’m just about to head out for my first 18 holes since The Masters which is

hard to believe.”  That was the first comment from Mallow’s James Sugrue as he started his 2021 preparations in Spain on Friday.  Sugrue headed of earlier this week, giving himself two weeks to tune up for three Challenge Tour Events in May.  James received invitations to play in the Range Servant Challenge and the Dormy Open in Sweden before playing in the Irish Challenge in Portmarnock Links at the end of the month.

“I’m delighted with the Swedish events, it’s great to Continue reading

Sugrue drives into professional ranks

James Sugrue picking up his new Hyundai Tuscon from Finbarr Noonan, Kearys Hyundai Mallow.

James Sugrue finally left the amateur golf ranks last week, and first out of the block to support him were Kearys of Mallow who provided the golfer with a new Hyundai Tucson.  His appointment as brand ambassador for the local business was his first commercial deal, and hopefully many more will follow as the 24 year old sets out to earn a living in the world of tour golf.  Sugrue confirmed that he had signed with Swedish management firm Sportyard, and while his first appearance on tour is a few weeks away, he was delighted to get on board with Kearys.  “I am delighted to become Brand Ambassador for Kearys Hyundai Mallow and very much look forward to driving the all-new Hyundai Tucson.  As well as its exceptional design, there’s plenty of room for the clubs in the boot!” said an excited Sugrue.  As an amateur Sugrue was prevented from any sponsorship or endorsement deals, but once he made the Continue reading

Sugrue No 1 in Europe

James Sugrue

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 Continue reading

Sugrue’s Masters Memories

Although his Masters adventure is over James Sugrue will have plenty of memories.  An impressive  second round of 71 got him into the red for the day.  Unfortunately he’ll miss the cut for the weekend but today’s round will take away the bitter taste from his disappointing opening round.

A handful of birdies, six in all, were among the highlights today.  A few impressive drives and a few good recoveries were also part or the round, and a ball in the water on the famous 12th will also form part of the memories of an incredible week in Augusta.  It was a busy day for James, he was back on the course early to complete his final nine holes from the first round following a rain delay yesterday.

James Sugrue (Mallow) 
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Sugrue’s second round was much better.  He was two under for the day after just three holes thanks to birdies on the second and third.  In a really strong mental display, Sugrue put aside the first round and he went out in two under par for his front nine.  After parring the 10th and 11th, he put a ball in the water at the signature 12th hole.  Although he had a good chip onto the green, a missed putt meant he recorded a double bogey five in the heart of Amen Corner.  But again he bounced back with a birdie on the par five 13th, a great drive over the trees gave him a great line for his approach.  But his second shot didn’t go to plan with the ball landing on the bank of the greenside creek.  Sugrue played a deft chip from the bank and slotted the birdie putt.

Another highlight came when his tee shot on the 16th landed within 5 feet of the pin.  The Mallow man again slotted the birdie putt.  A par brought his round to an end at the famous 18th, signing for a one under par 71, and 148 for the tournament.

For the record, Sugrue finished on +4 after rounds of 77 and 71.  He had eight birdies over the two days and plenty of memories from his first Masters start.  He’ll count the night in the Crow’s Nest, speaking at the Tournament Dinner and the drive down Magnolia Lane among the memories away from the course.  The next step for James , although tournament schedules and opportunities to play will determine when the Mallow man make the next move in his golfing career.

Michael Collins Augusta Preview

Michael Collins pictured at his base in Mallow Golf Range in Copstown.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

It’s a long way from Mallow to Augusta, but that’s the trip that James Sugrue and his coach Michael Collins had to undertake last week on the way to the Masters Tournament.  Travel restrictions meant that Collins was the only person to head off with Sugrue, and the PGA teaching professional was delighted to be alongside his pupil on the journey to golf’s most famous setting.

“Even though I was really looking forward to getting to Augusta, Covid-19 meant that it was hard to relax knowing that we had to negotiate three airports, two flights and 12 hours in the air” explained Collins.  However after arriving on Friday both Collins and Sugrue got the all clear from their Covid-19 tests and they could head for the course with the important trip down Magnolia Lane.

“It was pretty cool driving down Magnolia Lane on Saturday morning, something that I will never forget, or get tired of” said Collins.  “James has a local caddy for the week so we met Jack and played the front nine on Saturday and the back nine on Sunday morning.  As everybody has told me before we came over, you don’t realise how undulating it is until you see it.  The hill on the 10th could nearly be a ski slope.  They have told us that it will play a bit differently to April as they have had to overseed to get it playable in November.”  The weather is making a difference too as Michael continued, “It is playing pretty soft, meaning a lot of long approach shots into slopey, fast greens.  You will have to be very good tee to green this week to be in contention.  The greens take a lot of reading as the grain isn’t obvious but definitely has an influence.  We also have the added element of some weather heading through here due to the tropical storm coming up from Florida.  There is the possibility of weather delays which adds yet another element to the November Masters.”

PGA Professional Michael Collins who has also made the trip to Augusta forthe 2020 Masters Tournament.
Picture Niall O’Shea

Despite the changes in plans and schedules since March, Sugrue has kept his focus on the golf as his coach added: “To say his year has been disrupted is a gross understatement, but he has shown a great attitude and continued to work away, through all the uncertainty around competitions, lockdowns etc., and kept a positive mentality which can’t have been easy.  He has kept working hard at home since the Irish Open and has arrived here in good shape.  Ultimately, he is playing nicely, he has a great temperament and attitude and has a spring in his step after the Cork hurling and especially the footballers results over the weekend.”  The plan is to enjoy the challenge and play well.

Sugrue Snags Irish Open Start

James Sugrue

He might have been disappointed going to bed on Friday night, but James Sugrue woke up to the good news that he had secured an invitation to next week’s Irish Open.  After a well-placed comment from Lee Westwood, the European Tour extended an invitation to the 2019 Amateur Champion.  Sugrue was in action in New York at the US Open, and disappointingly missed the cut after failing to battle back in the second round.  Short of tournament golf, Sugrue is keen to maximise all opportunities for top level golf.  His season will run until November when he’s due to play in the Masters at Augusta.

It was after his opening round on Thursday that the issue of the Irish Open came up.  Playing partner Lee Westwood expressed surprise tha Continue reading

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Friday

It was a 5.30am start this morning, it wasn’t really a problem as we were waking up around that time anyway.  We got to the club on time and had a bit of breakfast, and James did a good warm up again.  He did a final bit of putting before heading to the first tee.  It was cold this morning and a bit windy, but we were all systems go to hit a good number.  But a slight double cross off the tee led to a bad lie, and a hacked 8 iron got snagged by the rough around 20 yards short of the green.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Thursday 

That was the worst lie I’d seen all week and all of a sudden we’re walking off with a 7.  You plan and hope for a good start and you end up with a triple, I guess it’s typical of the US Open.  That set us back a bit but James played a lot nicer today.  He was six over for two holes and three over for the other 16.  I know all 18 holes count, but I think that proved he played some pretty good golf today when you look at some of the scoring.  He did get three birdies today, including one on the last hole, so it was nice to walk off those greens with something.  The guys playing with us were just as sound again today, and Bubba was very impressive shooting one under for the round.

The final score was disappointing but it was a great experience.  Lots of people were saying that a first US Open is always going to be tough but he wasn’t depth at all and it just wasn’t his week.

After the round I put the clubs away and we got a bit of lunch.  We went back out in the afternoon and followed Tiger, Rory and Justin Thomas for a few holes.  It’s very strange to be watching the most popular players in the world at a major, and have next to nobody following them.  We have no firm plans for the weekend, but we’ll probably watch some more golf while we are here.

 

 

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Thursday

Not a good day at the office today!  The morning went to plan, we got to the course and had a good warm up.  We followed the schedule and James was feeling good, he was hitting it really well on the range.  But when we got out on the course he missed his spots by a yard or two and that just killed him.  Its amazing that a yard or two can make such a difference but we knew it was going to be tight, and that small margin meant that James couldn’t get anything going.

Although the golf was tough for James, the company was good, Lee Westwood was absolutely sound to the both of us.  Bubba didn’t say much but his caddie Teddy was hilarious and a great character.  It was cool to see Bubba take a driver off the deck at one stage, you don’t see too many people trying that on tour.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Wednesday

 

 

We have an early start in the morning, we’re off the 1st tee at 7.34am.   That means a quick turnaround so we’re already switched on to the second round.  We’re here and we have a job to do.  The plan for tomorrow is very simple – shoot 65!

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Wednesday

It’s getting closer to Thursday!  Mike and myself got to the course early this morning to walk the back nine and mark out all of the slopes in the yardage book, that was a help when James played it later on.  As planned, we played the back nine this afternoon after a short game and range session.  James is in good form and over the last two days he has done some great work.  He’s now hitting it the best I’ve ever seen him hit it, and that’s exactly what’s needed around here.  There’s still lots of talk about how tough the course is, although it’s mostly from the media now.  The players seem to be focused on getting around and staying out of trouble and that’s definitely what James is focused on.

The lack of fans should help if anything, to be honest it makes things more relaxed.  I don’t think it’s an issue, apart from the cameras it’s just like most tournaments where I’ve been on the bag.  There wasn’t too many people following us for the first four days in Portmarnock, and even less when were in Co Louth or Rosapenna for qualifiers over the past two years.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Tuesday

The plan for tomorrow will be the same as any other tournament.  His tee time is 12.54 so we’ll plan to get to the course around 11.30, get some food and warm up on the range.  He’ll get a few chips and putts in before the walk to the 10th tee and then it just time to go for it.  I’m buzzing to get going now, there’s a great energy around the course with the tournament so close.  Hopefully he’ll play well and have a good number tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll enjoy it.  I brought the bag to the hotel room tonight to make sure the 1 iron came out of the bag, and to make absolutely sure I only had 14 clubs in the bag.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Tuesday

We had a bit of a change of schedule today.  James didn’t hit the course until lunchtime and it was straight to the range.  To be fair he’s hitting it as well as I’ve ever seen him.  He did some Trackman work and after a bit of adjusting he put a new Titleist TSi driver into the bag.  He was absolutely ripping it.  He also has a new 21 degree Titleist TS2 hybrid as the 19 degree was going too far.  I think this is a good sign, the last time he put a new driver in the bag was when we were on the way up to Portmarnock for the Amateur last year and he had a fitting at the GUI Academy in Carton House.

As we weren’t up to much with James this morning, Mike Collins and myself went to the course to go Tiger hunting!  We met him on the 16th,  he was playing with Justin Thomas so it was great to see the two of them hitting a few shots.  After Tiger finished I ended up saying a quick hello to his caddie Joe LaCava and I ended up getting one of the Bridgestone Tiger balls he had used.  I reckon I’ll never get another chance to do that so I’m glad I took the opportunity.

I also had a chance to talk to Harry Diamond who’s on the bag for Rory McIlroy.  He’s a really nice guy and we were chatting about golf back home as well as the course and the draw.  There’s seems to be plenty of talk about the course from a lot of players and caddies.  There’s been a lot on Twitter about the rough and the media are picking up on it, there has been a few videos too on the greens and some of the slopes.  A lot of players are giving out, but they’ll know where  they have to put it on Thursday, and how to plot their way around the course.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Tuesday

James seems to be happy enough about the draw, and I’m really looking forward to watching Bubba play golf.  The bag is ready now, we’re using James’ Irish carry bag so its nice and light and easy to drag around.  The only thing James really looks for during a round is water so I’ll make sure that I’ve plenty of that.  He’s pretty laid back when on the course so the only other thing I have to do is get the yardages right!  Thursday is getting closer now so the plan for tomorrow will be to focus the practice on the short game and play the back nine in the evening.