Murphy ties 47th as “speechless” Knappe lands emotional Fancourt ‘W’

Adam McKendry
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Murphy ties 47th as “speechless” Knappe lands emotional Fancourt ‘W’

Alexander Knappe (Photo by Tyrone Winfield/Gallo Images)

John Murphy closed out his first tournament in this year’s Challenge Tour with a 47th-place finish at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa after his only over-par round of the week at Fancourt Estate.

The Kinsale man had three birdies and four birdies on the Montagu course on the way to a one-over 73 that left him six-under for the tournament, which saw him finish 17 shots off eventual winner Alexander Knappe.

The German held his nerve to birdie his final hole and card a four-under 68 to finish at 23-under, one stroke clear of home favourite Dean Burmester, who failed to birdie the 18th to hand his playing partner the title.

Murphy will have hoped for better in his first event on the second-tier, particularly after coming into it off the back of his first PGA Tour start last week, but the 23-year-old will be happy to have some early money on the board in the Race to Mallorca.

He will look for better moving forward than what he produced in his final round, starting on the 10th and birdieing his opening hole but reaching the turn over-par when he bogeyed 16 and 18.

Further bogeys arrived at the second and seventh, either side of a birdie on the fourth, but a closing birdie at the ninth at least got him inside the top-50 and will be something to take forward from here.

Meanwhile, the fight at the top of the leaderboard was eventually won by Knappe, who completed a blemish-free tournament with his 68 that was enough to edge out Burmester by the narrowest of margins.

The two players were neck and neck throughout, Knappe starting the day one shot ahead but immediately being pegged back by Burmester, and the two traded birdies throughout the day to reach the last tee locked at 22-under.

But Knappe prevailed, his four on the par-five one shot better than Burmester’s to hand him his third Challenge Tour title, and first since 2016.

“I’m really speechless, actually,” he said. “I’m settling down now so I can speak a little bit better but when I shook hands with Daniel, I couldn’t even say thank you for the round or anything, nothing came out. It’s just incredible to win this tournament, it means a lot to me.

“My mental coach has really helped me over the last three months. I’ve worked with him every day and I used breathing exercises which helped to keep me cool.

“I felt a little bit of pressure sometimes because I knew I was bogey-free. I played a little bit safe over those last few holes because I wanted to remain bogey free. I was left with long putts but it’s incredible, four rounds bogey-free, I never thought that was possible. It’s unbelievable.”

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