Cork's James Sugrue forced to abandon PGA Tour debut after visa issue

Cork's James Sugrue forced to abandon PGA Tour debut after visa issue
The latest setback marks the third time this year that James Sugrue has missed a chance to play in a professional event in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

James Sugrue has been forced to abandon plans to make his PGA Tour debut in the United States later this month because of a visa issue.

The 2019 Amateur Champion from Mallow had been invited to play the prestigious Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio from July 13-19 but his planned departure for the USA last Saturday in order to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine period ahead of the event was upset because he did not receive notice that his visa application had been approved until the eve of the flight.

Added to the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases in some American states, allied to a handful of positive tests recorded among PGA Tour pros and caddies in recent weeks since the resumption of a revised 2020 schedule and uncertainty over the ability to proceed with tournaments in the coming weeks, Sugrue decided not to travel.

“I was supposed to be heading to the Memorial this Saturday just gone,” he told the Irish Examiner. “I was due to leave Saturday morning to start the 14 days of quarantine but it all got a bit messy for a number of reasons, not least my visa didn’t come until Friday night.

“This is the hand we’ve been dealt, unfortunately. The old cliché is 'control the controllables' and we have no control over the coronavirus. So there’s no point in getting down about it, it’s happened, no-one was expecting it, and this is a worldwide issue, not just a James Sugrue thing. There are a lot more important things going on at the moment than golf.

“And the last thing I’d want is to go over to America and bring something home for family members to catch.” 

The latest setback marks the third time this year that Sugrue has missed a chance to play in a professional event in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic. His success in the R&A’s Amateur Championship at Portmarnock last summer earned him exemptions into the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush as well as the 2020 Masters and US Open in April and June of this year. Both the US majors were postponed and the PGA Tour suspended as the outbreak reached American shores.

Sugrue plans to be in the USA for the rescheduled US Open at Winged Foot in New York this September and also Augusta National in November for the Masters although the prospects of competitive preparation in the coming months will be limited for the Corkman.

“My next tournament is scheduled for August at the US Amateur Championship, so it’s almost a write-off of a summer. There’s not a lot of tournament golf on the horizon for me. I’m practicing and playing as normal, I suppose, since the courses re-opened, just minus the important ingredient of tournament golf.” 

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