Golfers from the University of Stirling are celebrating their status as the European Universities Strokeplay Team Champions following victory in France.
Not even a bout of flu to their star player could prevent the men’s team from successfully defending its European title in Saint-Saens – which adds to the Scottish and British University crowns.
Illness forced 2013 Scottish Golf Men’s Order of Merit champion Jack McDonald to pull out of the 72-hole strokeplay competition while leading at the halfway stage.
The rest of the Stirling team stepped up to the mark, holding off the challenge of 12 other leading universities, including runners-up Scandinavian School of Golf, which featured an all professional team with recent European Tour School First Stage Qualifying winner Philip Eriksson amongst its ranks.
Stirling’s team was captained by 2013 Scottish Amateur Champion Zander Culverwell – who finished second in the individual competition - and comprised McDonald, 2012 Belgian Amateur Champion Mathias Eggenberger, 2013 Irish Amateur Champion Cormac Sharvin and 2012 Scottish Boys Champion Craig Howie.
“It is out finest team performance ever,” said Stirling Head Coach Dean Robertson. “It was the toughest competition we’ve been up against and for me the most pleasing aspect was the overall team performance. Losing Jack [McDonald] was a blow, but up stepped Craig [Howie] with a final round 67 which spurred everyone on.
“The golf programme at Stirling is about creating an environment, much like a Swiss finishing school, where the best amateurs can make the transition into the professional ranks. To achieve these dreams takes sacrifice and dedication on a daily basis and retaining the European Universities team title is the reward for the work so far.”
In the women’s competition, the University finished as runners-up to the Scandinavian School of Golf, with Physical Education student Eilidh Briggs second in the Individual competition. Hannah McCook and Jordana Graham completed the Stirling women’s team, coached by Lesley Mackay.
McDonald has recovered in time to accept an invitation to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which teed off today (Thursday) whilst many of his colleagues will compete in the inaugural Scholars versus Alumni tournament tomorrow (Friday).
The alumni line-up includes former Walker Cup captain Colin Dalgleish and European Senior Tour winner John Chillas, the former University Coach. The event will also see the launch of the Professor Ian Thomson Golf Scholarship Award, named after the founder of the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme.
Professor Thomson will be on hand to bestow the award upon second year Sports Studies student Cormac Sharvin, with support from alumni funding the scholarship to help Sharvin complete his degree and further his golfing development. Golf scholarships have been offered at the University since 1981 and famous alumni include Catriona Matthew and Richie Ramsay.
Next up for the Stirling students is a series of matches against other Scottish and British universities between now and Christmas, before winter training in Dubai ahead of the 13th Prestige, a collegiate competition played at PGA West in the USA co-hosted by Stanford University and the University of California.