James Sugrue says he won't let playing for money change his approach as he makes his long-awaited professional debut in Sweden this week.
The 22-year-old Cork golfer makes his first start since the Masters last November in the Range Servant Challenge at Hinton Golf Club, Malmö, on Thursday.
Indeed, with golf courses in Ireland closed for the first four months of 2021, Sugrue's first time playing a full 18 holes since his one-under-par second round of 71 at Augusta National came just a fortnight ago in Spain as he began preparations for his first three pro events on the Challenge Tour.
The first two of those will be in Sweden before returning to the scene of his Amateur Championship success for the Irish Challenge at Portmarnock.
So while Covid has disrupted so much of Sugrue's plans since that victory two years ago, he hopes his belated entry to the pro ranks will be a continuation of his steady progress to the top of the amateur game.
“Everyone knows what comes with winning the Amateur; three majors (the Open, US Open, and Masters) and a couple of other ones that I couldn’t attend because of Covid,” he said.
“When I won back in June 2019, Covid wasn’t around and it’s definitely affected me. I thought my experiences would be a lot different.
“It would have been nice to have family and friends there but still, I really enjoyed it and still had a great time. I’m just excited to start my professional career here this week.
“I’m going to try and do the same things I’ve been doing my whole life, golf-wise. I won’t be thinking into it too much.
“People have said that things will change when I’m playing for money but I don’t think anyone is successful if they’re thinking over a putt ‘I better hole this for however much’. I’m just going to try and do what I’ve been doing for my whole career.”
Sugrue will tee off at 7.20am (Irish time) alongside Freddy Schott of Germany and Niklas Norgaard Moller of Denmark, who both finished in the top-10 at last week's Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa.
Sugrue won't be setting such targets just yet, although his opening 67 in the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle last year showed he certainly can compete at European Tour level.
For now, he's simply happy to get back to tournament golf after six months, take his shots, and see where he ends up.
“I’ve never been a big man for setting goals. I’ve practiced hard and trained hard through the winter. When clubs were closed in Ireland, myself and my coach did a lot of work.
“I haven’t had a card in my pocket since November at the Masters but I can’t wait to get going.
“I don’t have a goal this week at all. I’m not going to say I want to win, or finish in the top-10 or 20. I just want to play my golf and see where it leaves me at the end of the week.”