From slow play to improper drops, golfers are often castigated for flouting the rules of the game, but a University of Stirling student has been recognised for his fantastic sportsmanship.
Cormac Sharvin, a second year Sports Studies student at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, has been awarded the Enno Harms Fair Play Award by the European University Sports Association.
It follows an exceptional piece of sportsmanship by the 21-year-old Irishman at last year’s European Universities Golf Championship in France, where Stirling successfully defended its team title.
Sharvin called a two-shot penalty on himself with three holes left to play in the 72–hole tournament in Saint-Saens, despite still being in contention for an individual medal.
“I’d hit my ball left and it was up against a tree at the 16th,” explained the 2013 Irish Amateur Close Champion. “My back was right up against the tree and I was trying to knock it out.
“As I took my stroke, the club got jammed in a branch and didn’t move. I could have treated it as a practise swing, but the first thing that came to my head was to say to my playing partner that I’d tried to play the shot.
“I’d just dropped out of contention for the title, but it was also a team event so the impetus was still there to shoot the best I could. I ended up double-bogeying the hole and looking back, if I’d been a little less greedy trying to make the green, I should have knocked it out sideways like I did with my next shot.
“Obviously I would have liked to have won the tournament outright, but thankfully we still won the team title and it’s nice to be recognised by EUSA for playing in the spirit of the game.”
Sharvin finished the tournament on 283, tied third with fellow Stirling student Mathias Eggenberger and Swede Philip Eriksson, whilst Stirling captain and 2013 Scottish Amateur champion Zander Culverwell finished second overall on 277, three shots behind individual champion Markus Enoksson.
Former European Tour professional Dean Robertson, now running the men’s golf programme at Stirling, praised his player’s conduct. Robertson said: “It was an honest thing to do and respect to him for it. In a sport like golf or snooker, to call a penalty on yourself when it goes unnoticed by others, it shows your integrity and allows you to sleep easy on your pillow at night. As his coach, I’d rather he hadn’t made the mistake in the first instance, but it speaks volumes for his honesty that he did what he did.”
Rebecca Gracey, Stirling’s Sports Union President, added: “The Sports Union would like to congratulate Cormac on this fantastic achievement. It is encouraging to see that not only is the University of Stirling producing top performing athletes, but athletes who show great sportsmanship too.”
Mr Adam Roczek, President of the European University Sports Association (EUSA) said: “EUSA strongly encourages fair play values and applauds the actions and attitudes like the one displayed by Mr Sharvin. I am happy to say that despite the fact that our sporting events are of a competitive nature, we get several positive examples of fair play every year.”
Sharvin has been invited to collect his award from a representative of the European Fair Play Movement at the EUSA General Assembly in Turkey this April.
Before then, he is currently with the men’s golf team on warm weather training in Dubai before representing Stirling at Prestige 2014, the global student golf tournament co-hosted by Stanford University and the University of California. It’s not bad for a golfer who only took up the sport six years ago and is now on the University’s prestigious golf programme and now one of 160 gifted athletes supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships for students.
Sharvin added: “I can’t wait to get back into full training then off to California - it’s just brilliant. You won’t get a harder test than Prestige, and we’re going there to compete to win.”
The University of Stirling has offered golf scholarships to gifted young players since 1981 and its alumni include 2009 British Open champion Catriona Matthew and European Tour player Richie Ramsay.