A champion by degrees

A Scot who has just enjoyed a graduation day is determined to pass golf's greatest examinations. close-up; Gordon Sherry

Just over a week ago, Gordon Sherry graduated from Stirling University, a four-year biochemistry degree successfully completed. "It was a great feeling and a great day," Sherry said. "It is a weight off my mind, to get something behind me. Now I can play more golf."

Not for this 22-year-old the dreaded graduate's job search. Sherry has been a professional golfer for two months. It has been on-the-job training of a high level, the lessons transferred from the lecture room to the laboratory of the golf tour.

Not long ago golf was a happy hobby. A year ago, Sherry won the British Amateur Championship, having lost in the final 12 months earlier. Then, in three successive weeks in July, he was unbeaten in six matches for Scotland in the European Championships, finished tied for fourth in the Scottish Open at Carnoustie, and shaded his playing partners Tom Watson and Greg Norman in the first two rounds of the Open Championship at St Andrews. Finally, there was the Walker Cup, with Sherry a Seve-like figure as Great Britain and Ireland regained the trophy from their American counterparts.

"It was a great run," Sherry recalled. "I took every hole as it came and enjoyed playing the game. My confidence was high and that is half the battle." While Phil Mickelson won on the US tour as an amateur in 1991, Sherry's performance ranks as the best ever by an amateur on the modern European Tour. He would have won in the region of pounds 30,000. Instead, he took home pounds 1 from a bet with the American amateur champion Tiger Woods.

His mother feared he would not complete his degree; but Sherry, the son of a retired policeman from Kilmarnock, returned to Stirling and in April made a brave, if abortive, attempt to become the first British amateur to make the cut at Augusta in almost two decades. He talked about knowing what to do when (not if) he came back again. And then he turned pro.

At 6ft 8in, Sherry has never been short of attention, but his high- profile entry on to the Tour, courtesy of invitations to the B & H International and the Volvo PGA Championship, raised the expectations to unattainable heights. At The Oxfordshire, Sherry collapsed on the back nine in the second round to miss the cut, while he was 57th at Wentworth. One of his playing partners in the B & H was Frank Nobilo, who publicly accused Sherry of lacking "some of the courtesies we take for granted".

When the two were again paired together the following week, the story hit the papers and there was a brief, now resolved, breakdown in communication with the Scottish press. "It was blown out of proportion," Sherry said. "Frank and I had a chat about it. At the Masters, one of my best days was a practice round with Frank and Sam [Torrance] and [Ian] Woosnam."

At the time, Sherry thought he was suffering from tonsillitis, but it was then diagnosed as glandular fever. A complete break meant missing out on an invitation to Jack Nicklaus's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. "I would have jumped at the chance of playing, but my health had to come first. I had no option but to have a break. Now that I'm better, I realise how lethargic I felt all the time.

"It could not have happened at a worse time, but it is one of those things. Now, I'm glad things are moving forward. I need to keep improving everything that I have been working on with Bob [Torrance, his coach], and believe him. Keep working on my short game and get everything sharper. I've got a long way to go yet. I need to build my experience and learn from my mistakes."

Torrance, father of Sam, had plenty to say, particularly about The Oxfordshire. "I walked the back nine with him. When I joined him he had just birdied the ninth hole to be one over par so he was among the leaders and he missed the cut. He was going for the flags, instead of going for the heart of the greens and two-putting.

"I've told him that his head has been going down and you mustn't do that. I said, if you come off the 18th green with six bogeys in a row or six birdies in a row, I don't want to be able to tell. The man who did that so well was Jack Nicklaus. You cannot put an old head on young shoulders. You learn from your mistakes; that's how everyone learns."

There has also been a new relationship with his caddie, known as Turnberry George. Torrance said: "Gordon has always had other members from his club caddieing for him and he was the boss man. He was just not used to being told the line or what club to hit. I had George and Gordon together and said, I think you could be one of the best golfers in Europe and you've got one of the best caddies in Europe, if not the best. Gordon, you are going to make mistakes, and George is going to make mistakes. You have got to play with that and live with that."

Of his young charge's game, Torrance, who has recently been consulted by the world No 5 Ernie Els, has no doubts. "He has a very, very good swing," he said, the gravelly Glaswegian accent approaching a purr. "He is not really weak in any department."

A top-five finish at Carnoustie this week would solve a problem for Sherry. It would avoid the long, rushed drive down to Formby to tee off in the Open qualifying at 8.15am on Sunday. Of more importance is getting his European Tour card, for which he needs to earn around pounds 40,000 from seven sponsors' invitations, of which the present Irish Open was his third, plus the Open if he gets in. "I'm hoping that I will get it. I'm a good enough player that I know I can get it. I've played at Lytham, I like the course, and I'd love to get back in the Open. But I'm trying to make sure I don't expect too much, just go out and try my best."

And all the attention? "It has been very difficult. I'd be telling a lie if I didn't say that. At the start it was quite nice, people recognise you and want to speak to you. But it gets a lot, not only for me, but for my mum and dad. That's part and parcel of the job. The better you do, the more well known you become. Most people want to be nice, so it is nice that they take an interest.

"I have a wonderful barrier around me of different people, my management company [Carnegie], my coach, my coach's wife, and my mum and dad. I'm lucky." Having played early on Thursday morning at Druids Glen, Sherry spent most of the afternoon in the press centre chatting with reporters. He had only come in to phone his mum.

What became of the amateur champions?

1990 Rolf Muntz: Holland's leading player. Stayed amateur until 1994; now in his second year on the European Tour and at present 47th in the Volvo rankings with pounds 69,653.

1991 Gary Wolstenholme: Career amateur and member of GB & Ireland's winning Walker Cup team at Royal Porthcawl. Recently gave up job in firm of Bristol solicitors and is now golf manager at Kilworth Springs.

1992 Stephen Dundas: Turned pro but failed to get on to the Tour. Now an assistant pro at Loch Lomond, where Gordon Sherry is the touring professional.

1993 Iain Pyman: Also low amateur in the 1993 Open, turned pro the following year and earned his card from a handful of invitations. On course to retain his card again this year with pounds 35,675 already in the bank.

1994 Lee James: Beat Sherry in the final of the Amateur Championship. Trying to work his way up the ranks.

1996 Warren Bladon: Surprise winner of this year's championship at Turnberry; 30-year-old from Kenilworth who should achieve his ambition of an England cap in the home internationals, as well as guaranteed spots in the Open and next year's US Masters.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Teacher

£130 - £131 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ks1 teacher required for m...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

MI Analyst and SQL Developer (SQL, SSAS, SSRS)

£28000 - £32500 Per Annum + 28 days holiday, pension, discounts and more: Clea...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?