Cormac Sharvin secured his European Tour card for the 2019-20 season after finishing inside the top-15 of the European Challenge Tour’s order of merit.
But this time last year was very different for the Northern Irishman.
Sharvin was cruelly denied his tour card after incurring a two-shot penalty in the final round of Q school. He was penalised after his German playing partner, Alexander Knappe, pointed out that Sharvin had inadvertently teed up in front of the tee markers. He went on to card a gutsy two-under round of 69 but agonisingly finished one-shot outside the qualifying mark.
The Ardglass professional responded to this crushing disappointment by putting together an impressive 2019 season on the Challenge Tour. His season included six top-5 finishes and saw him accumulate over €100,000 on the Challenge Tour alone.
He closed his season at the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca with a disappointing seven-over par total that left him in a tie for 35th place. But, his consistent performances throughout the season meant he finished in eleventh place on the order of merit, securing one of the fifteen available European tour cards for next season.
The 27 year-old had a strong amateur career and played in the Walker Cup in 2015 at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s. Sharvin won all three of the matches he played and the Great Britain and Ireland team overcame a USA team that featured Bryson Dechambeau.
He made his European Tour debut in 2016 at the ISPS Handa Perth International. But bar a few rare European Tour starts since, Sharvin has been playing a full schedule on the Challenge Tour in an effort to secure European Tour status.
Sharvin said a move to Dublin last year was critical in his up-turn in fortunes on the golf course. Speaking on RTE 2FM’s Game On he said, “There are a lot more golfers down here, and we get more games. We can play for a few quid, and I think that has helped me improve a lot."
"There are guys like Gregory Havret playing on the Challenge Tour who came second in a US Open, Sharvin said. "I was able to play really consistent this year, without a win, and sneak into that top 15", he added.
His best result of the 2019 Challenge Tour season came in August at the Rolex Trophy in Switzerland. Sharvin shot a scintillating round of 64 on the final day to finish on a total of 22 under-par but it was only enough for second place. He lost out by one shot to the Dutchman Darius van Driel who also shot 64 on the final day.
Sharvin’s season highlight though was his appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour. He made the most of a sponsor’s invitation at Lahinch and was in contention on the weekend.
He played with the pressure of home crowds and finished as the leading Irish player on a score of nine under-par and in a tie for 15th place. He banked a cheque worth €85,655.
However, Sharvin missed out on the opportunity to play at the first Open Championship at Royal Portrush since 1951. A top-10 finish at the Irish Open would've qualified him to play in the major championship on home soil.
The Down native’s performances throughout the 2019 season have seen him rise 700 places in the Official World Golf Rankings. In February, he was ranked 957th in the world. He now ranks 257th.
Sharvin’s rise comes at a good time and is a boost for Irish golf along with Jonathan Caldwell securing his European Tour card for next season. Rory Mcilroy is still a world star, Shane Lowry is now a major champion and Pádraig Harrington is the Ryder Cup captain for 2020, but other Irish tour players have struggled.
Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan both lost their battles to keep their European Tour cards for next season and face uncertain futures.
Dunne, the 2017 British Masters champion missed the cut at 12 of his last 14 tournaments on the European tour and was forced to pull out of Qualifying school in Spain due to injury. "I have an ongoing wrist injury that’s gotten worse and I’m going to take some time to sort it out,” Dunne said.
Moynihan finished 144th on the Race to Dubai standings. His last chance to retain his card was at the gruelling 108-hole Q-School final stage in Tarragona. 156 players took part aiming to secure one of 25 European Tour cards. Moynihan missed out by four shots, finishing in 44th place.
Sharvin though will be looking ahead to a full season on the European Tour starting later this month in South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. If he can bring his 2019 form from the Challenge Tour into the bigger European Tour events in 2020 he will continue to climb the world golf ranks.