James Sugrue and Euan Walker revisit one of the most memorable Finals in the history of The Amateur Championship in a special feature below.
With this week originally scheduled to be the staging of this year’s championship at Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire, The R&A is celebrating last year’s showdown between the pair at Portmarnock in Ireland.
Presenter George Harper Jnr is joined on screen by Sugrue and Walker for a unique take on their exciting encounter and reminisce about how the action unfolded.
It was Sugrue who savoured success on home soil when he thrilled around 3,000 spectators at the renowned links near Dublin to defeat Scotland’s Walker. Sugrue was five up after nine holes but was forced to survive Walker’s sterling comeback to all square before clinching a one-hole win on the final green.
Played in glorious weather, 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.
Looking back to his victory 12 months ago, Sugrue said: “The crowds that week were just unbelievable – I’ve never seen anything like that on a golf course. Obviously, it helped me a lot, with friends and people from my town coming to watch me. It was like I was playing in my home club.
“It was more relief than anything else really to get over the winning line against Euan, especially after being three up going into the afternoon session.”
By virtue of his triumph, Sugrue, 23, gained an exemption into The 148th Open at Royal Portrush where he enjoyed a week to savour.
“It was a brilliant week up at Portrush, a great experience,” he said. “Winning The Amateur takes you into tournaments you only watched on TV before. It was class being first out with Darren (Clarke). I remember we started at 6.30am and I didn’t think the stands would be full at that time, but I was greatly mistaken! It was definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been, the first tee at Portrush. I was disappointed to only just miss the cut.”
Sugrue became the eighth Irish winner of The Amateur and joined a list of past champions that includes major winners José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia and, more recently, Matteo Manassero, a four-time winner on the European Tour, and Romain Langasque.
Despite missing out on lifting the trophy, Walker – who has made a promising start to life as a professional on the Challenge Tour – still recalls fondly the week at Portmarnock.
Positives in defeat
The 24-year-old added, “Looking back, what I achieved in reaching the final was still a massive accomplishment. Obviously, I didn’t win, but for me it is still arguably the greatest achievement of my golfing career. Not many people reach the final.”
Keep an eye on The R&A’s social media platforms this week for the special feature with Sugrue and Walker.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Amateur Championship has been rescheduled for Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire from 25 – 30 August 2020.