Gary Hurley may only be three events into his rookie season on the DP World Tour but the West Waterford native doesn’t look out of place at all with two top-35 finishes and a career-high mark on the DP Word Tour of 14th this week at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
The 29-year-old began the year with no status on any tour but eventually plied his trade on the Alps Tour which has proven to be the springboard to his success. A first professional win at the Alps de Andalucia was coupled with a top-5 on the Order of Merit and a Challenge Tour card before he skipped a grade and earned his DP World Tour card at Q-School.
Golf can often be a cruel sport that owes nobody anything but Hurley has discovered a joie de vivre after finally cracking the big time having contemplated giving up the game in 2019.
“It’s been an amazing year for me. I started off on the Alps Tour, had no status on Challenge Tour had a few invites and did quite well in a few of them. Went to Q-School and got my card so it was a fairytale year from the outside looking in.
“Me and my team have been working really hard. We aren’t surprised I got through Q-School, it’s a difficult thing to do of course, but I have been playing really well all year and managed to control myself and my emotions really well that week and gave myself a chance and it happened to be enough. This year I get to play on the DP World Tour so it’s brilliant and I’m really happy.”
A common theme of Hurley’s first 216 holes on tour has been his ability to bounce back and finish strong with is testament to his newfound mental approach which he has been instilled in him by Dr Ed Coughlan.
The Dungarvan man struggled on the front nine again at Mont Choisy – turning in two-over 38 – with dropped shots on the par-3 4th for the third day running, the par-5 5th and the par-3 8th every day but once again recovered with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 before closing birdies on 17 and 18 to shoot a two-under 70 and a seven-under total, twelve adrift of Frenchman Antoine Rozner who competed a resounding five shot win.
This was Hurley’s 26th event of the season but the mental toll he has taken will have weighed heavier on him than most given the journey he has been on this year.
“It was good. It was windy everyday, especially yesterday which was testing. This is the last event of a really long year for me and a really stressful last few months. I was running on empty the last few days I could see it in my emotions, hit a bad shot and getting upset over nothing really and I haven’t been doing that all year. When it came to hitting the shot I was pretty good.
“I didn’t have my best to be honest, but I am really happy with my application.
“I’ve learned how to prepare for events properly. A big part of my work is making sure that I am ready for what could happen, golf is so unpredictable there is no right way to play the game really. If you are ready for any situation nothing really surprises you, you’re expecting everything and expecting nothing at the same time so you’re open to whatever comes your way and whatever doesn’t go your way.
“I played here six years ago in a pro-am near the Heritage. Really nice part of the world I wish it was a little less windy, we stayed in a hotel down by the beach. My girlfriend is with me and one of my good friends is on the bag. It’s been a really nice week and I’m happy.”
A well earned rest beckons for the 2015 Walker Cup player who has reaped the rewards of a never say die attitude.
“I’m going to take some time off, put the clubs away and let my body try and recalibrate itself back to normal and go again in January.”
Meanwhile Tom McKibbin ran out of steam this week as he finished 40th on one-over after a level-par 72.
It was a strange round for the Holywood native who turns 20 on Monday who birdied the par-5 7th, triple bogeyed the par-3 8th and eagled the par-5 18th.