A delighted James Sugrue was one of five leading Irish amateur golfers celebrating call-ups to an extended Great Britain & Ireland squad ahead of the 47th Walker Cup match against the United States at Royal Liverpool this September.
The Mallow golfer, 22, was named by the R&A yesterday in an initial squad of 26 players who will contend for selection for GB & I in the biennial encounter to be played on September 7-8, when the US will defend the Walker Cup it regained two years ago with a 19-7 victory at the Los Angeles Country Club.
Sugrue is part of a quintet of Ireland internationals alongside Kinsale’s 2018 Eisenhower Trophy player John Murphy, 2019 Australian Amateur champion Conor Purcell of Portmarnock, newly-crowned West of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty from Dundalk and Kilkenny’s Mark Power.
England leads the way in representation with 12 players on the squad, Scotland has six golfers and Wales three.
“I was absolutely delighted when I got the phone call from the Irish captain John Carroll, absolutely over the moon,” Sugrue told the Irish Examiner.
“It would have been on my radar, I obviously knew it was this year and it would have been a bit of a goal if I could get there. I’d love to play in it, it probably is the highest level of amateur golf you can play and it would be great."
Sugrue hopes to go to European Tour Q School this autumn as an amateur and make a decision on turning professional after that but he is determined not to make Walker Cup selection one of the criteria for those decisions.
“I’m not going to make it my be all and end all. There’s a bigger picture and if I didn’t get on it wouldn’t change my plans. I’ve seen loads of players play Walker Cup and not make it as professionals and then you’ve people like Ian Poulter who turn pro off four and gets a top-10 in the Masters. So playing Walker Cup is not a licence to turn pro in the morning.”
The Corkman is on his way back from costochondritis, an inflammation of the upper rib cartilages, that surfaced as he was preparing with the Ireland team in Sotogrande for the European Nations Cup at the beginning of the month, forcing his withdrawal. He is in line to return to action this weekend at the Lee Valley Scratch Cup before heading to England with the Irish contingent for a Walker Cup training session at Royal Liverpool before contesting the Lytham Trophy.
“I’ve been playing pretty solid for the whole season and even the back end of last season so I can’t complain too much,” Sugrue said. “Not being able to play in Sotogrande was very annoying but that was half out of my control. I’m looking forward to getting back.”
GB&I initial 2019 Walker Cup squad (Irish in bold): Jake Burnage (England), Kieran Cantley (Scotland), Ben Chamberlain (Wales), Archie Davies (Wales), Alex Fitzpatrick (England), Bailey Gill (England), Conor Gough (England), David Hague (England), Harry Hall (England), Jake Hapgood (Wales), Benjamin Jones (England), Ryan Lumsden (Scotland), Euan McIntosh (Scotland), John Murphy (Kinsale), Joseph Pagdin (England), Thomas Plumb (England), Mark Power (Kilkenny), Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk), Sandy Scott (Scotland), Tom Sloman (England), Jamie Stewart (Scotland), James Sugrue (Mallow), Tom Thurloway (England), Euan Walker (Scotland), Robin Williams (England).