Golfer Cormac Sharvin won his second successive Stirling Invitational at Dundonald Links, holding off a stellar international line-up.
It came down to the final green on the Ayrshire course before the Sports Studies student and 2013 AIG Irish Amateur Close Champion could celebrate finishing top of the 90-strong field which included students from as far afield as Denmark and Slovenia.
2013 British Boys Champion Ewen Ferguson, representing a Scottish Golf Select side, established a three shot lead with nine holes to play in the 54-hole tournament, ahead of a chasing pack which included Sharvin and Stirling team-mate Craig Howie, the 2012 Scottish Boys Champion amongst others.
As others fell away, Sharvin clawed back the deficit and found himself a shot ahead of Ferguson with two holes to play following a stunning birdie at the 16th. Both birdied the 17th and Sharvin held his nerve to successfully defend the trophy.
“It was nice to get the win again,” said Sharvin, from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. “I actually perform better when it’s closer and on the 17th I played one of the best shots I’ve ever hit under pressure.
“I’ve enjoyed good success at Dundonald Links, in some ways it plays into my hands as it’s testing from tee to green and rewards good iron play. The tournament is as good a university field as you’ll face, especially with several of the Irish Home International players and a Scottish Golf Select. I knew the field was strong and am pleased I was able to come out with the trophy once again.”
Now a permanent fixture on the British Universities Golf calendar, the women’s event was also decided on the final hole, Stirling Business and Sports Studies fresher Gemma Batty and Abertay University’s Nastja Banovec narrowly beaten by Shannon Flynn, representing The Independent Schools Golf Association (ISGA).
Tournament Director Dr Rob Macpherson said: “Shannon Flynn was fantastic against her older university opponents and Cormac Sharvin is a brilliant player. That men's field was the strongest there has ever been for a UK university event.
“The class of both the men's and the women's competitions prove that home based students can have a performance pathway to success without having to leave for overseas shores. This is the fourth year of the Stirling Invitational and it was an excellent curtain raiser for what promises to be another great season of student golf.”
Sharvin only took up golf six years ago but seems a natural. He was part of the Stirling team which were crowned 2013 European Universities Golf Champions and was also selected as the inaugural Ian Thomson scholar. Named after the former Director of Sport who founded the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme, the Ian Thomson Scholarship helps him to balance his sport and studies, following in the footsteps of Scottish golfing luminaries such as Richie Ramsay and Catriona Matthew.
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Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence First Minister Alex Salmond designated the University of Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in 2008. Our mission is to deliver the best for Scottish sport through the powerful and inspirational combination of sport and education. We are at the heart of Scottish sport, preparing athletes to perform on the world stage, enabling students to develop their skill sets for excellent careers and producing innovative research to improve the health of the nation. Our sport-centred campus brings together the people shaping Scottish sport, creating a critical mass of sporting expertise and excellence.