Gary Hurley is set to make his season debut on the DP World Tour as he embarks on his rookie season at the Investec South African Open Championship this week where Daniel Van Tonder defends.
Hurley will join fellow rookies Tom McKibbin and John Murphy in Johannesburg who already got their rookie campaigns underway at the Joburg Open.
The West Waterford native looked to be preparing for a season on the Challenge Tour after earning promotion to Europe’s second tier via the Alps Tour Order of Merit but he capped off a sensational career revival by earning his DP World Tour card at Q-School three weeks ago.
The 29-year-old was part of Ireland’s famous five from the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup team but had fallen on hard times since. However, he has been reinvigorated mentally by Dr. Ed Coughlan over the last three years and he has reaped the rewards.
In 2019 he contemplated walking away from the game but 2022 has been a year of redemption.
Hurley earned his first professional win on the Alps Tour last season, was in contention at the Irish Challenge on the Challenge Tour, made his first DP World Tour start since 2017 at the ISPS Handa World Invitational and is now set to tee off his first full season in Europe’s top-tier.
The Munsterman tees off at 12.30 local time alongside Poland’s Mateusz Gradecki and Dean Germishuys of South Africa.
Golfers seem to develop a knack for playing well in certain parts of the world. On the PGA Tour, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns and Sungjae Im are always among the regular contenders in the Florida swing while the likes of Jason Day, Gary Woodland, Jon Rahm have found their calling on the west coast of the States.
Tom McKibbin has found his comfort zone in South Africa.
The Holywood native burst onto the Challenge Tour in February with finishes of third and seventh which ultimately set the tone for a brilliant season where he earned his DP World Tour card via the Road to Mallorca rankings.
A season on the DP World Tour will be a completely new experience for the 19-year-old who will take in different courses, different countries and a new way of preparing for events. Starting his season off in South Africa, a place where he knows and plays well, it’s a good place to start so he can build up Race to Dubai points early on and try and play his way into some bigger events.
If he was to be in contention this season it wouldn’t be a surprise if it came during the South African swing. A longer golf course this week than the Joburg Open, it will be a marker as to where the teenager ranks off the tee.
McKibbin opens his week with former amateur champion Romain Langasque and Team Europe vice-captain Edoardo Molinari.
Kinsale’s Murphy endured a disappointing start to his rookie season with a missed cut last week. A second round of 76 saw him drop out of the top-25 and have the weekend off.
The 24-year-old is grouped with MJ Daffue and Simon Forsstrom.
Portmarmock’s Conor Purcell is also Down Under for the Southern Hemisphere swing. He is in Melbourne for the ISPS Handa Australian Open.
The 25-year-old earned status on the Challenge Tour for 2023 but will be looking to impress in a high-quality field that includes the likes of Cameron Smith, Lucas Herbert, Marc Leishman, Ryan Fox, Rasmus Hojgaard and Min Woo Lee.
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