It was only on Monday that I asked John Murphy if the Pro-Am format this week at Pebble Beach would take the edge off his PGA Tour debut.
“It’s a good question… I’m not sure,” he said. “At least I know I won’t be the worst player in my four-ball!”
Whatever about the pressure alleviated by competing alongside amateur partners in California, news that the Kinsale star has been drawn alongside fellow Munster man Seamus Power will be music to the ears of Murphy as he looks to find his feet at the first time of asking on the PGA Tour.
Speaking to members of the media at the launch of Golf Ireland’s exciting new Five-Year Strategy from his base in Carmel, Murphy said he hoped to see Power plenty throughout the week and having got his wish, he’ll now aim to produce his European form on the other side of the Atlantic having arrived in the States early in order to familiarise himself with Pebble Beach, Monterrey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill; the three courses on this week’s rotation.
“I feel like my game is sharp,” Murphy says, who also spent time in Portugal in recent weeks.
“I made a couple of good adjustments over winter. Golf is obviously such a weird game so who knows how long those improvements will take to kick in but I feel like I’m hitting it nicely.
“If I play well enough, do my own thing, not put myself under much pressure off the tee and let that filter into the rest of my game, then I’ll probably be in a good position at the end of the week.”
Much like he did to gain entry into last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Murphy wrote to the Tournament Directors of this year’s AT&T in order to secure this week’s invite, and although it will be very much down to business from Thursday, the 23-year old admits he’s taken a moment or two to allow his new surroundings to sink in.
“We played here on Tuesday and you know, when you think of Pebble Beach you think of the 17th and 18th but I just thought the whole golf course was incredible,” Murphy said. “From when you tee up on the first to when you tap in on the last, it’s just a great experience to be able to play it.
“I played in a one ball with just me and my caddie [Shane O’Connell] behind the last group out so we were kind of coming down 18 as the sun was setting which was pretty cool.
“I’m not gonna lie, it was hard not to pinch yourself there and be like ‘we’re pretty lucky to be here’ so just really enjoying the preparation, enjoying playing the other two courses which are magnificent as well and just really enjoying being here.”
This week is very much a free hit for Murphy – nothing to lose and everything to gain for a PGA Tour opportunity even his wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured just 12 months ago.
One week can change it all in golf and although the full Challenge Tour member was surprised to learn his category had fallen short of requirements for the first event of the season in South Africa, Murphy has grand plans that could alter the shape of his entire year yet, should he produce a performance like his tied-ninth finish at the Dunhill under the bright lights of the PGA Tour.
“I was entered into the first Challenge Tour event down in South Africa and despite the fact I have a full Challenge Tour card, I’m on the reserve list,” he smiled.
“Not looking likely that I’ll be playing. It’s the biggest prize fund so hopefully I will be OK to get into the next six in South Africa.
“But nothing a top-10 this week wouldn’t sort out!”
Murphy and Power get their first round underway at Spyglass Hill on Thursday – 17.25 Irish time.
- Full scoring HERE