Bleeding thumbs Murphy to play his heart out before Cork Jazz Festival blowout

John Craven

John Murphy (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Disclaimer – John Murphy’s thumbs aren’t bleeding, but when a Simpsons reference like this presents itself for a headline, you’ll shoehorn it in any way you can.

Yet, if Murphy’s thumbs were bleeding, you wouldn’t hold it against him. Tournaments have been coming thick and fast for the Tour rookie and after one day of rest, the 23-year old returns to action at Empordà Golf for the second of back-to-back events at the Spanish venue.

“Staying in the same place is great,” Murphy said on the eve of the tournament, just after a feed at the local Irish bar, O’Malley’s.


“We’d a nice day off today so just went to a shopping centre and did a bit of shopping for the Cork Jazz Festival this weekend. The only time I’ve really gone out was the All-Ireland since I finished college so I’d like a nice weekend of it now to be fair.”

First there’s the small matter of the final regular season event on the Challenge Tour with Murphy currently occupying 69th spot on the Road to Mallorca with the top-70 guaranteed status next year. It may even prove a few more places than that with the likes of Marcel Siem in line to win Main Tour status via the Race to Dubai and although Murphy wasn’t quite sure of the permutations, he knows one way to take any doubt out of his future playing schedule. Aim for November’s Grand Final instead.

“I suppose if I can try push into the top-45, it would be a nicer goal for this week,” Murphy says of the November 4-7 Grand Final at T Golf and Country Club.

It’s been a manic stretch of golf for Murphy since turning to the paid ranks. Off limited starts, he’s taken full advantage, opening doors that once stood shut due to his own relentless consistency.

No finer example of that came at this same venue last week where he signed off on four straight 67’s for a podium finish on Sunday. Teeing up again this afternoon, there’s no rest for the wicked on this condensed calendar, but with light at the end of the tunnel, the Kinsale man is primed to give it all he’s got in one almighty end of year push.

“It’s obviously mentally fatiguing but it’s mentally fatiguing for everybody,” Murphy says. “Everybody’s going to be that little bit more tired so I’ll try use that to my advantage. The course will probably play trickier with higher winds forecast but I’m looking forward to that challenge, and as much and all as I’m mentally exhausted right now after a long summer, I know I don’t have much more to go so I’ve got to give it everything I have now and see where that leaves me in the end.”

The fact that Murphy has so much to play for having only made his first Challenge Tour cut in July is in of itself impressive. It’s a testament to the level-headed approach he’s taken to the paid ranks. How often do we witness elite amateurs make changes to meet a perceived professional standard and completely unravel the game that propelled them to the pro ranks in the first place?

In Murphy’s case, trusting the tools that elevated his amateur career and earned him a Walker Cup cap is now paying dividends in a seamless transition to paid company.

“I feel like the game is in a really good place. I wouldn’t say I really changed anything,” Murphy explains.

“I think I’ve done a great job of not feeling too intimidated, or feeling like I need to change things. I think I had a very good understanding coming out here that it doesn’t matter where you are, European Tour, Challenge Tour, amateur golf, if you’re playing well, you’re going to be high up the leaderboard no matter where you are so I’m just trying to keep my game in as good a shape as possible and it’s going alright so far!”

Reinforcing Murphy’s belief that his game would translate to the pro circuit is the trajectory of former college teammate from Louisville, Matthias Schmid. Also 23, Schmid has been making a splash since graduating alongside Murphy as a Cardinal, not least when firing a 65 at this year’s Open Championship, the joint-lowest round ever by an amateur at the tournament.

The German is being tipped for a huge future in the game which is no surprise for Murphy having duelled with Schmid throughout his collegiate career in a friendly rivalry that undoubtedly brought the best out of both of them.

“We got on great and it was great just to be with him in college for four years,” Murphy says. “To be able to compete with each other every day, and learn from each other, I found it very beneficial.

“It’s the kind of thing that secretly motivates you. When I was in college, for the first couple of years anyway, he was the player on the team, You were always chasing him but I actually edged him out on our scoring average in our third year so I still give him a bit of stick about that!

“But I’d imagine he didn’t like not having the lowest scoring average that year. He obviously wanted to be the guy walking about the place but it was just great to always have that competitiveness. It was never taken in a bad manner by either of us. I think we both enjoyed it. Plus, I think Matthias knows how good he is and how big a future he has. He’s never used that to his advantage. He’s always been very humble about it. He was a great teammate and great to be around so it’s nice to see that in a person as well – they’re not just good at golf.”

With play delayed this morning, Murphy takes to the course at 15.20pm Irish time this afternoon.

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