Friday 23 August 2019

Sugrue floating like a butterfly as Open dream becomes reality

James Sugrue. Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs
James Sugrue. Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs

Brian Keogh

Mallow's James Sugrue might have a tight back and a massive mosquito bite but he admits he's floating on air as the prepares for a dream Open debut alongside Darren Clarke in Thursday's opening group.

The Amateur champion (22) is one of life's laid-back characters but even with just a sprinkling of fans populating the massive first tee grandstand yesterday, he admitted he was so nervous he almost carved his first drive out of bounds.

"I was pretty nervous in [the Amateur at] Portmarnock at times," he said. "And I was actually quite nervous hitting my first tee-shot today. The grandstands come right around you and there wasn't even that many people, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like on Thursday.

"Obviously I am not going to enjoy setting the alarm for 4am, but I am going to enjoy being out there, the first out there, first on greens, first on the range, everything is going to be pure. It's a benefit to being out first."

As for his maiden drive, Sugrue (right) could only smile.

"Aw, miles right," he said with a grin, admitting it came close to going OB. "And you do not want to hit it right on one. The rough is up to your knees."

How he'll be feeling at 6.35am on Thursday is anyone's guess but while he's set himself the target of making the cut before regrouping, he admits that he's already living his dream.

"Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it, especially after finding out I'm playing with Darren as well in the first group, it's just a dream come true," he told a press conference. "I've watched The Open my whole life and just to get a chance to play in it is unbelievable.

"It is cool just to be in the locker room. I'm in this little corner - the Champions' corner - and Tiger's locker is behind mine and Ernie Els' is next to me. It is surreal. It's cool to be on the range and DJ is on the other side of the range and Marc Leishman is right next to me."

With Shane Lowry lined up for practice today and Tommy Fleetwood another potential practice partner this week, he's praying the antibiotics he's taking for a mosquito bite he picked up in the European Amateur Team Championship last week will do the trick.

"The doctor was there and had a look at it and he said it's infected and it's actually very sore to be honest," he said of his inflamed right calf.

"It's inflamed and it's probably about four inches in radius and it's expanding out, so I'm on two sets of antibiotics and hopefully it'll be OK by Thursday."

He's not setting lofty goals, just hoping to play well, make the cut and take it from there.

And with a huge crowd expected to make the trip north from Mallow and a familiar face on the tee in Clarke, he's hoping the nerves will quickly evaporate.

"Yeah, I think there are a lot of members and friends coming up so I am expecting a big crowd and I am sure Darren will draw a fairly big crowd as well

"Darren is pretty laid-back and I hopefully won't be too intimidated. Hopefully we can sort of feed off each other and play some decent golf."

Irish Independent

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