Strong starts to Q-School marathon for Murphy and Hurley

Ronan MacNamara

John Murphy (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Birdies are like buses, you can wait forever and a day for one and then they come in numbers. 

That’s how the opening round of the Final Stage of DP World Tour Q-School went for Kinsale’s John Murphy who had to wait fourteen holes for his first red number of the day before he birdied three of his last five holes to lead the Irish charge after day one in Tarragona. 

The 24-year-old who was exempt through to this week via his Challenge Tour ranking turned a day of frustration into one of elation with a three-under 68 to move into a share of 14th place early on. 

The former Walker Cup star opened his round with thirteen successive pars but in the blustery conditions that wasn’t a bad score and tagging on birdies on 14, 16 and 18 he is just three shots off the lead, although there are five rounds of this marathon to come. 

Murphy is currently the only Irishman projected in the top-25 and he will switch from the Lakes Course to the Hills Course on Saturday. 

A shot further back after a 70 on the Hills Course is Waterford’s Gary Hurley while 2021 Scandinavian Mixed winner Jonathan Caldwell is back on level-par after a 71. 

Caldwell was well placed at three-under through ten holes but two wayward tee shots cost him a double-bogey six on the 13th and a bogey on the par-5 16th after he had already dropped a shot on 11.  

The 38-year-old who lost his full playing privileges on the DP World Tour this year did bounce back with a closing birdie to lie 56th and he remains confident about the remainder of the week. 

“I’m pleased enough, two not overly bad tee shots on the back nine cost me three shots so apart from that I am pleased. My game is in reasonable shape,” said the Clandeboye native. 

“It was difficult, in practice it has been perfectly calm then all of a sudden we got 25 mile an hour gusts so it was tricky. So it was about adjusting a little bit, the ball wasn’t travelling as far,” he added ahead of a switch to the Hills Course on Friday. 

“I will stick to my game plan from practice and see what the weather gives us. We played it flat calm so it will be interesting standing on the hills when the wind blows, it’s a good test and keeping the ball in play is key. 

“I’m here to finish top-25 I’ve played on the main tour the last three years and that’s where I envisage myself playing my golf next year but the goal is to finish top-25 I’m not getting ahead of myself.” 

Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin is also bidding for a swift return to Europe’s top-tier and back-to-back closing birdies rescued what could have been a disastrous round – in the end it was a one-over 72 on the Lakes Course and he is in a share of 77th place. 

Another player who was exempt through to the Final Stage was Paul Dunne who teed it up for the first time since the 9th of October and that rustiness showed in a two-over 74 on the Hills Course and he will be hoping he can play his way into form. 

Sweden’s Simon Forsstrom and Dutchman Dario Antonisse lead the way on six-under while there are a host of established European names among the chasing pack including six-time DP World Tour winner Simon Dyson, Mike Lorenzo Vera (both –5), Alejandro Canizares, four-time DP World Tour winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marcel Siem (–3). 

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