Kinsale’s John Murphy was headed straight for the airport and a flight home after making the most of an early morning final round tee-time to post a brilliant six-under 65 at the Sydbank Esbjerg Challenge.
The 23-year old fired a magnificent seven birdies with just one dropped shot coming at the second – his 11th – to reach five-under par for the tournament, bolting 37 places up the leaderboard and into a finishing tie for 10th place that should seem him earn a start at next week’s B-NL Challenge Trophy.
“I got first tee-time this morning so I made a rash decision to book a tee-time home this evening so we’ll be making the airport on time, thankfully,” said Murphy, who felt there was a good round coming all week despite being stuck in neutral with scores of 71, 72 and 71.
“Yeah – the first three rounds shooting around even I was probably a bit frustrated walking off but I had a good feeling about today. I’ve been playing well recently, haven’t really got it going but thankfully I got it rolling today and managed to post a number.”
It was only in June that the former Walker Cup man turned his attention to the paid circuit but he has quietly gone about his business since, picking up his first pro win at the Northern Ireland Open while also making a couple of cuts off limited starts on the Challenge Tour.
“Everything is very up in the air,” he admits. “Right now I’m on the way to the airport and I don’t even know if I’m into next week’s event – I think top-10 gets in – so everything is very conditional but it’s still just golf at the end of the day. When you’re given the opportunity, you have to make the most of it and I’m just grateful to be getting these invites through my management company JMC Sports so hopefully into next week and make use of another one.”
Out from beneath the Golf Ireland/Louisville umbrella that protected Murphy so well during his amateur days, Tour life has been an adjustment for the Cork man but despite its logistical challenges, he’s been enjoying every minute of it.
“It’s been very busy,” he says. “I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past couple of months. It hasn’t been the easiest lifestyle to live but it’s all part of it and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m very happy to be in the situation I’m in so hopefully I can push on from here.”
“We’ve a nice group of Irish lads out here. I’ve been staying with James [Sugrue] a lot the last few weeks. Him being from Cork, obviously we get along great and I have my caddie every week, Shane O’Connell (of Talk Birdie To Me fame) staying with us too so we get on great.
‘I told him [Shane] that he’s not allowed record Talk Birdie To Me while we’re on Tour,” Murphy joked. “But no, he’s doing great, we’re both really enjoying it. We only live one hundred yards from each other back in Kinsale so it’s nice to be able to travel around with someone you know.”
And should Murphy now make it into next week, it should mean four starts on the spin to look forward to courtesy of the pulling power of JMC Sport.
“I’m not into next week but I’m in the three after [starting with September’s British Challenge] so that’s three more opportunities to push my way up the rankings. As of right now, the plan after that is to go to Korn Ferry Tour Q-School but who knows. If I can keep making birdies out here on the Challenge Tour, then I’d probably stay over this side of the pond, but we’ll see.”
Michael Hoey completed the Irish scoring in Denmark, signing off with an even-par 71 for a one-under par tally.
At the top, Norway’s Espen Kofstad defeated Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson in a play-off to win in Denmark, claiming his first Challenge Tour win in five years. The 34-year-old started the day two shots back at Esbjerg Golfklubbut posted five birdies and one bogey in a round of 67o finish on 11 under par, tying with overnight leader Ferguson who closed with a round of 69.
Kofstad then birdied the first extra hole, with Ferguson only managing a par, to secure his fourth Challenge Tour win overall and first since the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge in 2016. The 2012 Challenge Tour Number Onesaid it was sweet winning againafter a few tough years.
“This one was better than the other ones I think,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, it’s been five years and it’s been really, really hard, I’ve been injured so much, and I finally got my stuff together and started to perform again.
“It’s crazy, I remember after wrist surgery in 2016 I took almost two years off and I played 2019 without too much practice and I thought I’m going to have to do something or I’m going to have to quit golf, so yes this one feels pretty special.”
Kofstad, now moves up to fourth place in the Road to Mallorca Rankings, virtually securing his playing right on the European Tour next season.
- Full scoring HERE