Golf remembers fallen player

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Emily Arnold

In the summer of 2011 on a sunny Sunday morning, now-senior golfers Thomas Keith Sharkey was an enthusiastic, fun-loving guy from Scotland who came to Georgia Southern University in 2010 as a talented golfer. A month before a new school year was to begin, Sharkey was killed tragically in a house fire at his home in Helensburgh, Scotland along with his younger sister and father. His mother, Angela Sharkey, was the only one of his family to survive.

“Thomas was one of the best friends you could ever have,” Evans said. “He was always upbeat and he liked to have fun. He was just a great guy and one of my best friends on the team. He was a guy that you could get really close to.”

Throughout the years, Sharkey has been remembered on this team in various ways. The Scottish flag flies on a pole at the Bennett-Ramsey Center practice facilities with a memorial stone underneath, his name sits above his empty locker inside the facilities and there is a stitching of the Scottish flag with the initials ‘TS’ on every Eagles’ golf bag. For Sharkey, the Schenkel was his favorite tournament and this year’s event would have been his final one.

“He had a great personality and just really brought people to him,” Mays said. “He was growing as a player and would have been a big part of our team going forward.”

Before the tournament began, Evans made the remark that if the team was to win this years Schenkel, they would take the trophy and present it to Angela Sharkey for her to keep in Scotland. Little did he know what would happen at the 35th annual Schenkel Invitational.

“You kind of think ahead but really when we’re playing, especially in that final round, we’re trying, as a team, really hard to focus on the shot at hand. We weren’t trying to think ahead about winning,” Evans said. “When I first made that statement, I expected us to play well. It’s extremely hard to win the Schenkel. We went out there expecting to play well, but not expecting to win.”

The golf team ended day one in second place, but only one stroke behind the leading University of Alabama at Birmingham. Day two was when the magic started to happen. Evans and Anderson each shot a hole-in-one that day, which helped secure the Eagle’s round two score as a 12-under-par 276 to move into the lead.

“It didn’t really sink in until my next hole,” Evans said. “It was pretty cool to finally have a hole in one, especially in the Schenkel, and the crowd got pretty loud.”

In final round of the tournament, the weather conditions were anything but ideal. Despite the cold and rain, the Eagles continued to move ahead. The Eagles ended the tournament with a score of 850, an entire eight strokes in front of second place UAB’s score of 858. Junior Scott Wolfes dominated the playing field and became the third Eagle to ever take home the individual medalists title.

“There’s been a whole lot of pressure for us to get a win. We only play one home tournament a year so there’s that extra pressure of having just one chance in front of your home crowd,” Mays said. “This would have been [Sharkey’s] senior season and the seniors kind of dedicated the tournament to him and that added just that extra bit of motivation to the players wanting to represent him well.”

Taking the trophy to Scotland was no joke to the golf team. This October, the team will be making the trip to compete in a tournament and while there, they will take the trophy to Angela Sharkey as a reminder of her son’s time and impact at GSU.

“It was obviously a really big high. It didn’t really set in until over Spring break,” Evans said, “It was really surreal when I was holding that trophy up with Hayden and the rest of my teammates.”