Kinsale golfer John Murphy enjoyed a tremendous 2018 and it looks like the University of Louisville student’s stock will continue to rise in the next 12 months
IT’S a Christmas in Melbourne, Australia for Kinsale golfer John Murphy as he seeks to plot a strong start to 2019.
The past year saw victory in the St Andrews Links Trophy at the famed ‘home of golf’, while he represented Ireland in the European and World Amateur Team Championships and was also part of the Great Britain & Ireland team which played Continental Europe in the St Andrews Trophy.
He has come quite a way in 2018, especially when he considers his situation in November of last year.
‘I had surgery on my knee in November of last year,’ he says, ‘so there was a sense of uncertainty in terms of I was going to come out of that, if it’d need six months of recovery or how long I’d be out.
‘For two months, I didn’t play any golf but then when I got back I felt really refreshed, I had a lot of hunger. At the start of the year, I was playing well but maybe struggling to get results but then thankfully things started to improve. I’d certainly say I’m a better player now than I was a year ago.’
Waiting to be given the go-ahead to return wasn’t the easy of periods, but Murphy – whose father Eoin won a Jimmy Bruen Shield Munster title with Bandon in 1989 – trained himself to deal with the situation.
‘It’s a huge test of patience,’ he says, ‘two months is a pretty significant period of time and I’d never have been off for that long before.
‘You always want to go back early and start hitting balls but you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s not in your best interest. If you were to come back when you’re not ready, you’d only end up being out for longer so you just have to put your feet up.
‘I read an article that was about controlling the controllables, getting right everything that you could, so it was about getting my body in the right shape and eating well.
‘After a while, I was able to go putting and chipping, I still couldn’t make a full swing because of the pressure it would put on my knee, but I was doing a lot to prepare for the year, checking out the courses I was going to play and doing some upper-body gym work to get my knee as strong as possible.
‘All of those things added up.’
The win at St Andrews in June was the key to it all for the University of Louisville student, aided by some advice from his mother Carmel.
‘In May, I was just back from the spring semester in college,’ he says, ‘and I was playing a tournament in France, I went over with my mum.
‘She hadn’t seen me play in a while and she was asking why I thought I wasn’t getting results but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
‘She told me to stay patient, even when it was frustrating. I missed the cut in France by a shot but she said it was the best she had ever seen me play.
‘Two weeks later, I won in St Andrews and I went from being down in the dumps to sky-high, things can click like that in a week and you get huge confidence.
‘I played in the British Amateur Championship soon after that and I beat a lot of good players and then played some really nice golf at the European Team Championships, I got into a flow after that, for which I was really thankful.
‘I felt I had got better and I really wanted my results to show that.’
He also had the chance to represent Ireland on home soil at the World Team Championships in Carton House alongside Robin Dawson and Conor Purcell as they finished in a tie for tenth.
‘It was a lot of fun,’ Murphy says.
‘Obviously, it was a great experience to be picked and very enjoyable to have so many people travel up for it.
‘We had three really good days and one that let us down and stopped us getting a medal, but that’s just the way it goes.’
Overall, it leaves him in good shape as he looks forward to 2019. The jaunt to Australia is due to his girlfriend Bethany Russ – a hockey player with the University of Louisville – being a Melbourne native.
‘Being away for Christmas for the first time is obviously a challenge, but the hope is that it’ll be worth it in the long run,’ he says.
‘I’m looking to take advantage of the good weather and get a lot of practice in and play in a tournament down here.
‘The aim is to always keep getting better.’
The beacon standing out above everything else for next year is the Walker Cup as Great Britain & Ireland take on the USA at Royal Liverpool GC in Hoylake, one of the venues on the Open Championship rota.
‘Obviously, it’s going to be in the back of my mind all year,’ Murphy says.
‘It’s been a dream of mine to play in it and I put myself in a good position this year, especially being picked for the St Andrews Trophy, which is as close as you can get in an even-numbered year.
‘At the same time, I just have to go out and control whatever I can. If that’s good enough, then great but there are things that are outside of my control, I could play well and just not be picked, that can happen sometimes.
‘All I can do is play as well as I can. I’ll be based in Europe for the summer and am really looking forward to going there and playing.’