John Murphy and Robin Dawson are both looking to make the most of home comforts this week as the K Club hosts the Irish Challenge.
The South course will present a different challenge than what is usually on the menu on the Challenge Tour with players being afforded the opportunity to be more aggressive off the tee here rather than the usual tree-lined courses seen in continental Europe.
That should play into the wheelhouse of the two Munster redheads who are both hoping to build on strong performances last week and push their way up the Challenge Tour rankings.
“Always nice to be home, as a professional golfer it’s not very often you get to play at home so certainly going to try and enjoy it, relish it and see where it leaves us,” said Murphy who shot two rounds in the 60s last week.
“I had my first proper look under tournament conditions on Monday so liking the look of the place so that’s always a good start. Try put in two good days of preparation and get some rest in there too and be ready to go by Thursday.”
The Irish Challenge is set to become one of the landmark events on the Challenge Tour with the tournament visiting the K Club in 2024 and 2026 as part of a deal which will see the North Course host the Horizon Irish Open in 2023, 2025 and 2027 and the Kinsale native is hoping to draw a big home following this week.
“When you are sitting in the car listening to music you dream of weeks like this, playing at home, having the chance to compete at home and do well. You’d be lying if you said those thoughts didn’t go through your head so just nice to be here and I am really excited for the week but at the same time treat it like any other golf tournament.
“I haven’t been advertising it too much but it would be nice to have some home support from Cork. Every Irish golfer loves to play in front of home fans, Irish fans are so passionate so it would be nice to have a good bit of support.”
A whole host of players have been granted invites this week with a series of Alps Tour players in the field while four Irish amateurs have been invited to tee it up including Murphy’s Walker Cup partner Mark Power.
The 24-year-old was in that position 12 months ago but has since secured a full Challenge Tour card and he knows how important one week can be in defining a career.
“It would be amazing to have as many Irish out on tour as possible, all it takes is one week. You see someone getting an invite and all of a sudden they win and they have a European Tour card so it’s great to get those opportunities and as Irish players we are grateful for them and to get to host events like this so that gives us the opportunity.
“That’s another big incentive, everybody wants to play Irish Opens don’t they? I was lucky enough to have the opportunity this year and it was an amazing experience so a nice incentive for next year,” added Murphy who is 91st in the Road to Mallorca.
Tramore’s Dawson burst onto the scene at the 2019 Irish Open in Lahinch but has found the going tough since then. However, there have been green shoots as of late including a T-12 in the Euram Bank Open a fortnight ago.
A proven winner at amateur level with Irish Open titles at both Men’s and Boys level, he hopes a new caddy can help him finally crack the code of tour life.
“It’s been a long time,” admitted the former world number 6 amateur. “I’m a very positive person anyway regardless. I’m happy with my game, a new caddy the last couple of weeks a nice result in Austria so he has helped a lot getting me to think about the shot properly because it can be tough being there on your own whereas a caddy takes care of things you don’t want to be dealing with so he has been a good help the last couple of weeks definitely.
“I’m trying not to focus on expectations I just want to play well that’s all I ever want to do, hit the shots I want to and play well for myself and walk away from my round being pleased so if you can do that for four days you won’t be too far away. That’s my attitude.”
Dawson is another big hitter like his fellow Munsterman Murphy and he hopes to be able to open the shoulders and play more freewheeling golf compared to the style usually seen on the Challenge Tour.
“It’s lovely yeah especially with the way the set up is here at the K Club. The course is just perfect, they have done a tremendous job so far so hopefully the wind and rain stays away and it’s an enjoyable week.
“We have had perfect conditions so far I think a bit of wind will make it interesting. I really enjoy this golf course it is fun and very fair, greens are fantastic.
“I have hit it in the rough once or twice so it’s not pretty and some of the fairways the grass is cut into you and the others the grass is with you so it makes it trickier. It’s nice a lot of courses we play in Europe are tight and tree lined so it’s nice to have a less stressful week compared to normal,” added the Waterford man.
Admission to the K Club to watch the home stars in action at the Irish Challenge is absolutely free.
- Register for tickets HERE
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