John Murphy is back in action in Portugal this week after enjoying a rare week off at home in Kinsale, his only break in a run of 11 tournaments in 12 weeks.
Murphy is cruising nicely on the Challenge Tour. With just five tournaments to go, he’s up to 28th on the Road to Mallorca rankings with the top-20 at season’s end earning DP World Tour promotion.
Still, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the 24-year old. After storming to his Challenge Tour card off limited starts in 2021, Murphy entered the new season with confidence brimming but after a slow start, managing expectation became imperative to his upturn in fortunes of late.
“It felt a bit different initially, I think I had to do a lot of work on dealing with pressures and expectations given what happened towards the end of last year,” explained Murphy.
“Things went really well and I had myself in a position when I think I almost expected to come out this year and do the same thing and expected things to be easy.
“I tried to improve on that mindset throughout the year and I think I’ve done a good job on that this year. I think I managed my expectations well, especially in the middle of the year when things weren’t going as I would have hoped.
“I just said that good things will come if I just stick with what we were doing. With Ian [Stafford – coach] and Shane [O’Connell – caddie] and Fergus [Wallace – sports psychologist], we put in some really good work during the year to help me maintain that focus of staying in the present.
“It’s very easy to get consumed with rankings and you are defined by a number when you’re on tour.”
Murphy is clear about the overall goal – moving up to the DP World Tour – but he’s realistic about the opportunity and the size of the challenge ahead.
“I’d be lying if I said the target wasn’t to get into the top twenty and get a main tour card for next year,” said Murphy.
“Ian put it very well a few weeks ago when he said ‘we’re prepared for all outcomes’, and I’m in a good position to try and push my way up the rankings.
“It might happen this year, it might not but deep down I’m confident I’ll have my tour card eventually so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. If it doesn’t happen I’ll pick myself up and go again.”
Murphy has banked over €60,000 in prizemoney this year but with tournament weeks costing up to €4,000, staying on tour is an expensive business. Working with his manager Emma O’Driscoll from JMC Sport, he has a number of Irish sponsors including Finbarr Galvin, Arachas, Sullivan Golf Travel, Martinsen Mayer as well as tour partners Titleist and Peter Millar. With no shortage of backers outside the ropes, it allows Murphy to focus on the task at hand within them, and alongside him on the fairway there was special praise for caddie O’Connell who is also learning by his best friend’s side.
“The more time we’re spending together, the more we’re learning about what works best for us on the course,” Murphy said.
“I think he has a very good grasp of what works well for me and we’re trying to keep learning together. If we can keep doing that we’ll be in a pretty good place – and we’re still friends so that helps!”
The pair have just finished their longest stretch of tournaments yet, a seven-week stint that saw them take in six different countries. The run was crucial as Murphy moved from 89th in the rankings to 28th.
The highlight of the recent run was a 3rd place finish in the K Club at the Irish Challenge and Murphy was delighted that his family and friends got to see him in action while playing so well.
“They hadn’t seen me play well in a tournament for a while so it was great to have them up there and there was a great buzz around the place, it was pretty special,” Murphy said.
“When you go to some of the Challenge Tour events you can feel like you’re on your own, so it was nice to have that support and for Ian to be able to get up the road to see me and to have all my team there.
“It was great to have all the support from Kinsale Golf Club and my friends and family in Kinsale and Cork.”
As the season draws to a close, Murphy is looking forward to a few weeks off, although he does make the point that the DP World operates in a similar wrap-around fashion to the PGA Tour. If he does get a card for next year, there’s every chance he’ll be playing tournament golf in December.
Regardless of how the next few weeks work out on the course, 2022 will have been another positive year for John Murphy.
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