Kinsale’s John Murphy brilliantly celebrated his 20th birthday calmly holing a 25-foot birdie putt at the Old Course first extra hole to capture the prestigious St. Andrews Links Trophy.
Murphy posted a final round of a one-under par 71 that included two opening hole birdies but saved the best for near the end of his round after puttnig his 9-iron approach shot into the notorious ‘Road Hole’ bunker at the 17th. He then remarkable landed his third to eight feet and holed the putt for par to remain tied with German Jannik De Bryn who had finished with a 68 for a nine-under par tally.
Murphy just missed his birdie putt on 18 to finish on nine-under which sent the event into a play-off back down the first hole at the Home of Golf.
Murphy, with reigning Flogas Irish Amateur Open winner, Robin Dawson from Tramore on his bag for the playoff, hit an iron shot off the tee and then sent his wedge into the first green left of the flag, with the left-handed De Byrn then landing his second shot well inside his Irish rival to 10-feet.
But when Murphy brilliantly holed his birdie putt it clearly put enormous pressure on his opponent who failed to hit the hole.
Among the first to congratulate Murphy was Irish Amateur team captain, John ‘Blondie’ Carroll.
“The key to my round was the par on 17 as I hadn’t holed a putt all day, so I just thought this would be a good time, I hit one of the best putts of my life and it dropped in the front just like I wanted,” said Murphy.
“But I’m just overwhelmed to win here on the Old Course as I still remember playing this on the PlayStation as a kid and I remember some of the holes from that. It’s just overwhelming, it’s incredible”.
The play-off meant Murphy missing the last ferry from Scotland to Dublin so he remained in St Andrews ahead of flying back home on Monday.
“My girlfriend arrives from Australia on Tuesday so it’s going to be a double birthday celebration,” he said smiling.
Murphy is now the third Irish golfer to win the St Andrew Links Trophy after Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar (2009) and Naas’ Conor O’Rourke (2016) with the event first held in 1989.
Among the former winners was a 16-year old English teenager who won the event in 1997 and tees up later this week at Shinnecock Hills as the 2013 U.S. Open winner – Justin Rose.
“I’ve won some youths and boys tournaments around Ireland but this is by far my biggest win,” said Murphy.
“I now have a week off and then heading back over here to Scotland for the British Amateur so very much looking forward to that now having won here at St. Andrews.
“And the victory can only help in the bigger picture as I wasn’t on the six-man Irish team but I’m on the national panel and got funded to come over here, the GUI are great for funding us.”
Murphy explained why Dawson caddied for him in the play-off and after Dawson had missed the cut for the final two rounds, “I was meant to be on the 11pm ferry from Stranrar tonight so that’s why my caddy had to leave early as he needed to catch the ferry as he’s flying out to the States in the morning,” said Murphy.
“I’ll get a flight home with the Irish boys tomorrow. I had Robin Dawson on my bag for the play off and he’s won it all, he’s very experienced. He kept my relaxed and told me to slow down.”