Tom Sherreard. Does the name mean anything to you? Don’t worry if it doesn’t, because in a week’s time it probably will. The 20-year-old Englishman from Kent is about to play in his first Major – the next step in a promising career.
Sherreard has for a long time been considered a bright talent of English golf. Representing the national side at many levels, he has won many of the more prestigious titles in youth golf. The Peter McEvoy Trophy, which counts amongst its previous winners a certain Lee Westwood and one Justin Rose, is perhaps the most high profile trophy the name ‘Sherreard’ is engraved into.
This victory, in 2005, catapulted Sherreard into the amateur consciousness – he went on to be picked for many England teams and was even appointed England Boy’s captain.
Eager to improve his golf, Sherreard finished his secondary education and opted to study abroad – choosing Georgia State as the perfect place for him to play. Enabling him to compete on the world-renowned collegiate circuit, it had the added advantage of being near the historic Augusta National.
Currently 136th on the Official World Amateur Rankings, Sherreard has begun to make a name for himself on the other side of the Atlantic - rising to 84th on the much-publicised US College Rankings.
But it is appearance at Royal Birkdale that will do most to boost his profile. Like many amateurs, Sherreard made the tournament by successfully coming through Open Qualifying. Breezing through the initial stages at Rochester & Cobham GC, he hoped for the best in the final rounds. After a solid performance at Southport & Ainsdale GC, his -3 total (69-72) for two rounds was good enough to top the Leaderboard and seal one of the 4 available berths.
Officially representing Chart Hills GC, one of the most prestigious golf courses in Kent, Tom will no doubt have many supporters making the trip up the M1 to watch him. His draw, with former USPGA winner Rich Beem and Swede Pelle Edberg, looks a favourable one. Beem, a colourful character, will no doubt help Tom relax and enjoy the experience. Edberg, an emerging star of the European Tour, will give Tom a yardstick by which he can measure his progress.
But what can Sherreard realistically hope to achieve in the tournament? Will he do well to make the cut, or simply savour the experience? Obviously, considering the depth of quality present this week, to play all four rounds would be a consummate achievement – but it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
Having had the fortune of playing more than once with Tom (we were juniors at the same Kent course – admittedly a few years back), I know that he certainly has the game to prosper. Prodigious off the tee and deadly accurate with the irons, it looks like he has gone from strength-to-strength since relocating to America.
If his short game is accurate, there is no reason why he cannot have a similar impact on the tournament to previous British Amateurs like Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.
It was Rose and Birkdale in 1998; it could be Sherreard in 2008.
I once had the fortune to win £1 off Tom in a putting competition. At just 500/1 to win the Open (shorter odds than both Sandy Lyle and Tom Watson) I might have to take that pound out of my piggy bank and down to the bookies – it may prove quite the investment.
But regardless of my financial interest, on behalf of Kent, good luck Tom!