Murphy’s admission is a stark reminder of the fine margins in professional golf

Mark McGowan

John Murphy (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Last November, John Murphy was on top of the world. When it mattered most, he fired a six-under 65 in the final round of DP World Tour Q-School at Infiniutm Golf Club, in Tarragona to finish 23rd overall, with the top 25 earning DP World Tour cards for 2023.

Literally playing for his job, he’d looked destiny in the eye and seized the day.

Fast-forward eight months and Murphy has announced on Instagram that he’s taking a break from the game as he looks to reignite both his love for the game and his ability to play it at the top level.


The post reads as follows….

“Ever since I started playing the game, all I ever wanted to do was be a professional golfer and play amongst the best golfers in the world. Whilst I’m grateful for the life that I live and the way we are treated on tour, with this has come a lot of added stresses and demands.

“Over recent months, golf has started to feel like a job for me when it’s always felt like a passion. I have lost the sense of enthusiasm I have always had for the game and this, in turn has taken away from my enjoyment of playing.

“Striving for perfection and often doing things because I feel I should has made me lose sight of what has gotten me here in the first place.

“After recent struggles, I’ve decided to withdraw from the next couple of events to take some time away and get the hunger back to play and compete.

“Thank you to everybody who has reached out in support, it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Murphy’s admission and decision come as a timely reminder that golf is a fickle game, particularly so at the elite levels. The margins between good and bad shots are often so fractional that what once came as almost second nature can suddenly seem like the hardest thing in the world; every drive destined for the heavy rough or worse, every approach a little offline or off-distance, every chip a little heavy or light, and every putt sure to break that little bit more or less than predicted.

Murphy’s graduation to the DP World Tour, while coming as a surprise to some, was hardly shocking to those who’d seen him play up close. Shortly after turning pro and playing on an invitational basis, a T9 finish at the Dunhill Links in 2021 was followed by a T24 at the Open de España a week later, but he’d spend the majority of 2022 on the Challenge Tour, where two third-place finishes guaranteed at least a return to Europe’s second tier in ’23, but he aspired to more.

But after gaining his card in dramatic fashion, shooting four-under on his final nine holes when three-under would’ve been a stroke too many, Murphy’s rookie season as a full DP World Tour player got off to a rough start as he’d head to South Africa and miss the cut in his first four tournaments before the tour closed down for its Christmas break.

Travelling from Raz Al Khaimah to Singapore, then Thailand and India in four successive weeks is far from easy, and doing it while you’re missing cuts and searching for form is significantly harder.

He’d finally make his first paycheck of the season at the Soudal Open, where buoyed by a first weekend tee-time, he briefly flirted with the lead before falling to a tie for 28th on Sunday. But such was Murphy’s luck, that the following week was the PGA Championship meaning no DP World Tour event, and by the time he got back in action at the KLM Open a fortnight later, whatever he’d found in Antwerp had disappeared once again.

The Made in Himmerland tournament in Demark was the final straw. Staring another missed cut in the face after an opening 78, he teed it up one last time on Sunday before deciding enough was enough. He’d tried playing his way into form and it was time to try something new.

It’s hard for a professional to admit that they need a break, to admit that the way they’re going about things is not going to yield the desired results. There’s a certain sense of bravado in everyone, but often, the bravest thing to do is to stand up and admit you need help.

That’s what Murphy has done, effectively sacrificing any hopes of a late rally that could see him secure his playing rights for 2024, and returning to the drawing board in an attempt to find both his passion for the game and his game itself.

And the game is there. Somewhere. We know it and he knows it.

Here’s hoping he finds it.

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