Cormac Sharvin returns to familiar territory this week as the Irish Open touches down at Galgorm Castle.
The Ardglass professional is no stranger to the course having competed over the layout in competition at the Northern Ireland Open but never has he experienced the normally boisterous venue under the veil of the European Tour bubble.
The 27-year old’s form has suffered since the restart post-lockdown – the consistency that was a hallmark of his game last year on the Challenge Tour somewhat missing in action – but Sharvin hopes a mental rethink in how to deal with the demands of the ‘bubble’ could pay dividends on home soil this week.
“That’s probably been the hardest thing for me,” Sharvin admits.
“I’ve struggled with the bubble. From the outset I was trying to say that I wasn’t struggling – that I don’t mind it – but when I reflect, it’s something that I have struggled with.
“I’ve found it hard to separate my golf from just chilling at the hotel. I feel like I’ve been a little bit uneasy with the whole thing but I did some work on it last week to try and reframe it and basically get myself in a good place going into a week.
“It nearly felt as if I was rushing my weeks – I wasn’t relaxed. I couldn’t wait to get out of the bubble essentially – but it is what it is and I have to learn to adapt and get better at it.
“My performance coach has given me a few things to do – just basically to plan my days better so I’m not sitting around all day… maybe practicing a bit more and having a schedule to my day instead of getting back to the hotel and sitting around without having much to do.”
Sharvin’s not alone in struggling to adapt to the bizarre circumstances that golfers find themselves in on the European Tour. England’s Jordan Smith withdrew mid-tournament from Valderrama after the weeks essentially in hotel lockdown became to take their toll. Andrew Johnston opted out altogether.
However, far be it from Sharvin to dwell on the negative, after a week off, yeah, this week won’t be the Irish Open experience that our fair isle is used to but it represents an opportunity for someone to become a home hero – fans or no fans present.
“It’s going to be different, that’s for sure, but it’s an opportunity to play well on home turf,” Sharvin added.
“I haven’t played great the last while but I had a good week off last week to reflect and try and get back to things that worked for me last year – I’ve kind of got away from that – and just trying to tidy up my swing and things.
“I feel like my game’s in the best place it’s probably been all year coming into this week. Whether I play well or not this week is a different story but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.
“I know the course really well, I’ve played a lot of golf here. It’s a good test, the rough’s thick but I’d say my game is probably suited to a course like this. Tee to green it’s a good test so it should set up well for me.”
Arguably the best week of Sharvin’s life in his relatively short pro career to date was last year at Lahinch when he captured the imagination of the raucous crowd with a moving day 66 on the County Clare links.
Sharvin eventually signed off for a top-15 finish at the Rolex Series event and although he admits that the energy of the crowd was something he relished, he accepts he’ll need to source energy from elsewhere to fuel his title bid at Galgorm this time ’round.
“It’s a good chance to do well this week,” he says.
“A big challenge will be playing without crowds at an Irish Open. Even when I’ve played Challenge Tour here, we always get good crowds and I always seem to get a decent following and I’ve always fed off that which is great but it’s just something I’ll have to look at this week and I’ll just have to gee myself up without the crowds.”
Sharvin gets his championship underway alongside Paul Dunne and Marc Warren at 12.40pm Thursday.
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