University of Stirling golf scholar Cormac Sharvin has joined a long list of golfing greats by winning the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship.
The 19-year-old defeated 2010 Irish Youth champion Paul Dunne by one hole in the final at Connemara Golf Club, adding his name to the trophy previously won by the likes of Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke.
Sharvin led after two qualifying strokeplay rounds and battled through the last 32 to book his place in what proved to be a thrilling final. With Sharvin two up after 16 holes, Dunne clawed the deficit back to one going down the par five 18th.
The East of Ireland champion then recovered from a wayward tee shot to birdie, forcing Sharvin to hold his nerve with a 10 footer to halve, which he duly obliged.
“Surprisingly, I was very calm standing over the final putt and the last thing going through my mind was if I hole this then my dreams come true,” said an ecstatic Sharvin. “It means so much to me knowing the famous players who have won it before me.
“I am delighted, especially having led from the start. Going into the tournament I felt if I played the way I have been then I didn’t think I would be beaten. Thankfully, I played the golf of my life for the whole week.”
It was a fantastic result for the Sports Studies student, who only took up the sport five years ago and reward for the hard work and commitment he has shown since joining the prestigious performance golf programme at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
Cormac’s uncle, Brian Martin – caddie to Swede Johan Edfors - recommended his nephew to University High Performance Golf Coach Dean Robertson and the teenager has blossomed in his first year at Stirling. He performed excellently in an event in California against Harvard University’s leading players then won the Exeter Invitational, a British University event and made the cut at the Lytham Trophy and the Scottish Amateur Championship.
Sharvin added: “I took the game up not expecting very much to be honest, but took to it very naturally and every year I’ve gradually got better and better. Since coming to Stirling, my game has come on leaps and bounds. Dean [Robertson] has been a huge help, sorting out my mental preparation and with my general course management.
“The set-up at Stirling is great and playing and training every day with some of the best amateur players around like Jack McDonald, Mathias Eggenberger and Graeme Robertson has brought my game on so much. The performance programme at Stirling is brilliant and it keeps getting better.”
His uncle Brian couldn’t hide his delight at his nephew’s success. He said: “I am so delighted my path crossed with Dean at the Scottish Open last year. I’ve played international golf for Ireland, caddied on the European Tour and was at the Ryder Cup last year, but the feeling of joy and excitement witnessing Cormac win today is the finest moment I have ever had in my life.”
Robertson added: “Bo [Brian Martin] said Cormac can hit the ball well, but needs some guidance and structure to his game. I took a chance on him and he has shown a fantastic work ethic in his first year on the University programme. He is a raw talent, but is quickly emerging as a very exciting prospect and we’re delighted for him. It’s no surprise to me he is now making the step up by becoming a national champion at such a young age in terms of his golfing experience.”
The long-standing University golf programme helped launch the careers of current top-level Tour players Richie Ramsay and Catriona Matthew. Students benefit from access to high-level coaching and fantastic facilities on campus at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
Find out more about golf scholarships at Stirling.