It's a measure of Gordon
Sherrys continuing high profile with the public that years of indifferent
golf have not dented an enduring status as one of the games brightest characters.
In spite of season after season of underachievement, theres still a lot
of good will around for a player who enjoyed the summer of his life in 1995 but
struggled to match the successes of his amateur days in the professional arena.
Ian Doyle, the millionaire businessman who manages European Tour players Dean
Robertson and Alastair Forsyth as well as many of snookers leading lights,
discovered as much when he agreed to handle the big mans affairs last month.
When Sherry parted company with Carnegies sports management team a few
weeks ago, his star was at its lowest ebb.
"Gordon was all over the place," Doyle recalled. "He was even
buying his own clubs.I dont think he knew where to turn next."
Once the 6ft 8in graduate of Stirling University with the larger than life personality
put his trust, and his future, in Doyles hands, matters began to improve.
When he tees up in the Northern Open at Forres today, Sherry will wield Ping
clubs and hit a Nike ball. The deals with those two international companies are
On paper, it seems an extravagant price to pay for a golfer who isnt even
eligible to play on the Tartan Tour, never mind the European Tour. Doyle, though,
accepts no kudos for negotiating what appears to be such a handsome return when
the market is so competitive.
"Honestly, it was easy to put these deals together for Gordon," insisted
Doyles entrepreneur who has guided Stephen Hendrys brilliant career
"You see, hes still a name people remember what he achieved.
The truth is were starting again with Gordon and the important thing is
Gordon also realises theres a lot of work to be done."
The memories which fuel hope of a Sherry revival are all concentrated in the
summer of 1995. It was then that the best amateur golfer in Europe left Tiger
Woods trailing in his wake as he claimed fourth place at Carnoustie in the Scottish
Open behind Wayne Riley, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo. He was also at the
centre of attention at the Old Course for the Open when he played with Jack Nicklaus,
Tom Watson and Greg Norman, who hailed the Scot as a breath of fresh air for
the games future. President Bush wanted to shake his hand.
Sherry went on to play a key role in helping Great Britain and Ireland beat the
US (Tiger again) in the Walker Cup at Porthcawl two months later. By the time
he teed up in the Masters the following year at Augusta, the Scot was fully expected
to make the same kind of impact in the paid ranks as Sergio Garcia was to achieve
a few years later.
It didnt work out that way, partly because Sherry was a touch naive and
made the mistake of sharing his dreams. Some listeners mistook those hopes for
goals and he was portrayed as full of himself.In fact, this likeable son of Kilmarnock
was, at worst, guilty of saying what he believed, rather than taking the politically
correct line. But his public image changed almost overnight from boy wonder to
Sherry, who never saw himself as arrogant, might have coped with that PR calamity
had he not also been struck down by glandular fever at the outset of his professional
career. Even when he made a full recovery from that debilitating illness, the
Scots mental energies were drained and his confidence ebbed away. In a
sport where the game is played between the ears as much as the tee and green,
this was a devastating turn of events.
The spiral of decline reached a nadir when he parted company with his former
agents and didnt know what the future held. Now hes been given a
second chance by Doyle and over the coming months will try to build some self-belief
Doyle doesnt want his latest client to chase invitations to play European
Tour events and instead will encourage Sherry to walk before he runs. Hell
play Mastercard and Challenge Tour events with an emphasis on making cuts and
grinding out consistent performances.
After all, everyone knows Sherrys potential: this years priority
is to turn dormant talent into solid achievement. Loch Lomond, to their credit,
have stood by him and his contract as the clubs touring professional was
renewed. The chances are heLL play in the Standard Life tournament and
also attempt to qualify for the millennium Open.
But his targets for the year will be accomplished in less exotic surroundings.
Sherry himself appreciates the challenge lying in front of him."I was treading
water," here called," and didnt want to continue that way. I
had to make a decision. Already with Ian, things are beginning to turn around.
Ive had a couple of meetings with him and hes very positive.
"The main problem was a loss of confidence and thats what I have to
Doyle has sorted out Sherrys financial worries and given him another chance
to concentrate on just playing the game. At the age of 25, he still has time
on his side and can take encouragement from the fact that many wonderful golfers
in the past took time to make their way in the game. Ben Hogan, for example,
didnt become established as a major force until he was 34.
Married to Alison, the couple live in Helensburgh. "Weve got a nice
life and a nice home," said Sherry. "Its just about getting the
With Adam Hunter, coach to Paul Lawrie, looking after his swing, and Doyle handling
his business affairs, Sherry only needs to concern himself with knocking a little
white ball into a hole again.
It was a task he found easy as an amateur. When Sherry was a child, he played
golf as a child. Since hes become a man, hes discovered how difficult
the game can be. Now its time to put away childish things, Sherry, the
professional, will get a chance to call the shots.