JOHN Murphy knew he needed ‘something pretty special’ in the final round of the DP World Tour Qualifying School final in Spain – and he delivered in style.
The Kinsale golfer had to shoot a low round to put himself in contention for a top-25 finish and a DP World Tour card.
He saved his very best for the final of his gruelling six rounds.
‘I had the target of seven under in my head at the start of the day, and throughout the day it started to get breezier so I was thinking that maybe six under does it,’ Murphy told The Southern Star.
‘I had this gut feeling when I was on my 17th, and I had two holes to go, and I felt if I made a birdie and a par from here I probably have my DP World Tour card for next year.
‘Luckily, the second last was playing down wind, I hit an approach shot into nine feet and made the putt. I went up the last and made a fairly nervy par that got me over the line.’
The 24-year-old shot a bogey-free six-under par 65. He produced the goods when he needed to, unleashing six birdies in his last 12 holes, including four on his back nine. Murphy’s reward is a DP World Tour card for the 2023 season. He has hit the big time, graduating from the Challenge Tour. World number one Rory McIlroy has just won the 2022 DP World Tour, while Shane Lowry on Twitter welcomed Murphy to the tour; that’s the company the West Cork man will now keep.
Murphy – and his Kinsale caddy Shane O’Connell – enjoyed a whirlwind tour of home before jetting out to the Joburg Open in South Africa, for the opening event of the 2023 DP World Tour. No rest for this Kinsale dream team.
‘I have played in DP World Tour events and done well in them, but to have a secured status on the tour … that’s been a goal of mine since I was playing golf as a kid. It’s something I used to dream of. To have job security, it’s a dream come true,’ Murphy said, and he’s confident he will hold his own with the best in the world.
‘A few things happened last year that made me feel that I am good enough to compete at that level. At the Dunhill Links I was close to leading halfway through the last round, alongside some of the best players in the world and I was almost leading. That instilled me with a lot of confidence to know I can compete.
‘Right now it’s about doing everything I can in my control to find ways to get better and ways to improve while maintaining what I have, because I know what I have is close-on good enough.’
By his side – and on his bag – is childhood friend Shane O’Connell, who came on board as Murphy’s caddy when he turned professional last year. These two go way back. Neighbours. Schoolmates. Friends. Teammates. This relationship works. A familiar face for Murphy, but also a friend who calls it as it is.
‘We grew up 100 yards from each other,’ Murphy explained, ‘were in junior infants together, and all the way up.
‘Shane works very hard. He does the work that people don’t see – he is out walking the course every evening, checking pins, just looking for that extra one percent to help me.
‘I hit 411 shots at qualifying school last week, and had I hit 412 I wouldn't have my DP World Tour card, so that makes all the difference. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.’
And it’s those one percenters that helped Murphy open the door to the DP World Tour. His star is continuing to rise.