Former Ryder Cup winning Captain, Paul McGinley hopes last year’s Amateur Champion, James Sugrue seeks out some world class practice partners to ensure he gets the most out of his Masters debut this week at Augusta.
The Mallow man arrives to a November Masters having waited patiently since wowing home crowds at Portmarnock in the summer of 2019. It was a long wait for the now 23-year old world amateur number 8 but having taken that famous drive up Magnolia Lane, McGinley hopes Sugrue isn’t shy about picking the brains of the game’s best this week to guarantee he’s getting the most out of a precious Major experience.
“You’ve got to soak up everything,” said McGinley who made his own Masters debut in 2002 with a certain JP Fitzgerald on the bag. “I believe he stays in the Crow’s Nest, the apartment they have there, he gets the right to stay there. Soak it up. Play with Rory, and Shane.
“Hopefully he’s made contact with him (Rory) and set up a practice round with him. I remember I played with Bernhard Langer and Woosie [Ian Woosnam]. What I was doing before was prepping to make sure I got to play practice rounds with them. Hopefully, he’ll soak up everything and not just turn up and put his name down on the timesheet.”
Sugrue had indicated that through his work with Team Ireland coach Neil Manchip, who’s also the coach of Open Champion Shane Lowry, that he would hope to tee up with the Irish duo prior to Thursday’s opening round: “I didn’t have anything set in stone but Neil was saying Shane would definitely play and maybe Rory,” said Sugrue. “If Neil were to ask, the two boys are so sound that I couldn’t see them saying no. I’m pretty comfortable around Shane so I’d love the chance to pick his brain and get a feel for the course.”
That will be music to the ears of McGinley who believes that in order for Sugrue to make the next step in his own golfing development, he will need to surround himself with the best players on the planet as often as possible as the battle becomes a mental one when he eventually makes the transition from the amateur ranks to the professional.
“Hopefully, he’s made plans to play with those guys because that’s what it’s all about,” McGinley added. “Where he’s at in his career now, he’s obviously got the game, and the big test on whether he’s going to be a success as a pro or not is going to be a mental one. And the steps forward in that is playing with the best players, going out and seeing how good they are, see what they do, listen to what they say on the course, try and pick up some tips from them. Hopefully, he’s done that and he’s going to embrace it all. These guys aren’t going to bite you if you ask them for a practice round.”