Ireland’s case for four, five or even six places in the 10-strong Walker Cup team were strengthened on Saturday when Cormac Sharvin led a sensational and historic 1-2-3 for the boys in green in the Brabazon Trophy at Notts Golf Club.
The Ardglass star dramatcially scrambled for par on the 18th at Hollinwell to win by one stroke on seven under 281 from The Island’s Gavin Moynihan (66) with Naas’ Jack Hume tied for third, two shots further back alonside American Charlie Danielson and Lancashire’s Paul Kinnear on four under par.
Sharvin, who has been threatening to win since April but come up tantalisingly short each time, joins David Long (1979), Niall Kearney (2009) and Ronan Rafferty (joint winner with Peter McEvoy in 1980) on what is a very short list of Irish winners of the English Amateur Open Strokeplay title.
As things turned out, Kearney was the only Irishman on the 2009 Walker Cup team while Rafferty joined Philip Walton on the 1981 team that lost at Cypress Point.
Both Raffery and Walton were exceptional and the Dubliner made another appearance in 1983 on a side that also featured Arrthur Pierse.
How special the current generation of Irish amateurs turns out to be remains to be seen. But tournament wins are very often a good barometer and with Moynihan and Paul Dunne, who was ninth, set for the professional ranks this year, we will eventually find out how good they really are.
Walker Cup selection is also hit and miss — see Rory McIlroy in 2005 — but with the experienced Moynihan and Dunne clearly two of the best players in Great Britian and Ireland, Gary Hurley ranked third for GB&I in the WAGR and Sharvin No 4 and rising, it’s hard to see how Ireland can be denied four places in Nigel Edward’s team for Royal Lytham and St Annes.
And that’s before we even consider the merits of Hume or Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy.
The forthcoming European Amateur Team Championships will decide their fate with around 15 players seriously battling for those 10 places.
Here's the breakdown of Irish representatives in the Walker Cup sides over the years:
- 1922 - 0
- 1923 - 0
- 1924 - 1 (CO Hezlet)
- 1926 - 1 (CO Hezlet)
- 1928 - 2 (Co Hezlet, GNC Martin)
- 1930 - 0
- 1932 - 1 (J Burke)
- 1934 - 0
- 1936 - 1 (C Ewing)
- 1938 - 2 (J Bruen, C Ewing)
- 1947 - 2 (C Ewing, J Carr)
- 1949 - 4 (C Ewing, J Carr, SM McCready, J Bruen)
- 1951 - 4 (C Ewing, J Carr, SM McCready, J Bruen)
- 1953 - 2 (J Carr, N Drew)
- 1955 - 2 (J Carr, C Ewing)
- 1957 - 1 (J Carr)
- 1959 - 1 (J Carr)
- 1961 - 1 (J Carr)
- 1963 - 3 (J Carr, JF Madeley, D Sheahan)
- 1965 - 1 (J Carr capt)
- 1967 - 2 (J Carr, T Craddock)
- 1969 - 1 (T Craddock)
- 1971 - 1 (RJ Carr)
- 1973 - 0
- 1975 - 1 (P Mulcare)
- 1977 - 0
- 1979 - 0
- 1981 - 2 (R Rafferty, P Walton)
- 1983 - 2 (P Walton, A Pierse)
- 1985 - 1 (G McGimpsey)
- 1987 - 1 (J McHenry)
- 1989 - 2 (G McGimpsey, E O'Connell)
- 1991 - 3 (G McGimpsey, P McGinley, P Harrington)
- 1993 - 2 (P Harrington, R Burns)
- 1995 - 2 (P Harrington, J Fanagan)
- 1997 - 2 (R Coughlan, K Nolan)
- 1999 - 1 (P Gribben)
- 2001 - 2 (M Hoey, G McDowell)
- 2003 - 2 (N Fox, C Moriarty)
- 2005 - 1 (B McElhinney)
- 2007 - 2 (R McIlroy, J Caldwell)
- 2009 - 1 (N Kearney)
- 2011 - 2 (P Cutler, A Dunbar)
- 2013 - 2 (K Phelan, G Moynihan)
- 2015 - ?
As for the Brabazon Trophy, it was a triumph for Ireland, as the EnglandGolf.org reported:
Sharvin finished on seven-under par at Notts Golf Club, a stroke ahead of Gavin Moynihan, who closed with six-under par 66, and three ahead of Jack Hume, Lancashire’s Paul Kinnear and American Charlie Danielson.
Sharvin has been knocking on the door of a big win after a string of high finishes and he said: “It means the world to get over the line. I have given myself so many chances this year and it’s great to get it done.”
It undoubtedly strengthens his claim for a place in the GB&I Walker Cup team for this September’s match and he remarked: “It puts my name in the equation a bit more.”
Sharvin, 22, had one big slice of luck as he pinned down the biggest win of his career. He needed a par four on the last to clinch the title and his seven-iron second shot sailed over the green, hit the clubhouse wall and rebounded round a sponsor’s board before finishing close to the green.
From there he chipped up to about a foot and holed out for the win (pictured right). “You need to get a bit of luck,” he laughed afterwards.
He scored two-under 70 today and described it as “a bit of a grind”. The large crowd of spectators would have described it as an amazing display of short game skills as he got up and down from some challenging situations on the home stretch.
“The back nine is tricky and I holed a lot of good putts under pressure,” added Sharvin, who arrived at Hollinwell with a new putter and new putting technique, going from cack-handed to conventional, after being dissatisfied with his performance at the Amateur Championship.
The Irish contingent clearly came out in determined mood today and the leaderboard was soon reflecting their charge. Gavin Moynihan (The Island) made rapid strides, reaching the turn in four-under 32, helped by three birdies and an eagle, before playing the back nine in 34.
Despite his finish he never expected to win. “I was 20th at the start and I was just trying to finish in the top 10.
“Obviously I would have liked to have been in a play-off, but I have no regrets. I’m delighted for Cormac, he has been knocking on the door for ages and he was due a win. I couldn’t be more happy for him.”
Jack Hume (Naas, Ireland) shot a final round 69 to move into a share of third place on four-under, while others Irish players were also pushing hard. In total five of them finished 11th or better. “It’s a great day for the Irish, I’m proud of everyone,” said Sharvin.
Had it not been for three back nine double bogey sixes, Dunne might have forced a playoff rather than finished tied ninth on one under after a 73.
Still, he’s showing signs that his very best stuff is not far away while McElroy (74) tied for 11th on level par with 16-year old Kevin LeBlanc from The Island, the Junior Open champion, who looks like a Walker Cup player for 2017 already after carding a one under 71 with the handicap of a triple bogey seven on the back nine.
Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith (70) tied for 18th as he continued his move towards top form with Naas Conor O’Rourke growing in confidence all the time after a 71 gave him a share of 23rd on three over.
Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell Jnr (74), who has not played his best stuff since announcing his intention to head to Q-School this year, ended up tied 34th on five over while The Island’s Paul McBride (74) was two shots further back in joint 44th.
Castle’s Daniel Holland (74) was joint 50th on 10 over.