Exclusive by Bernie McGuire in Dubai.
For a second, I thought it was Swede Sebastian Soderberg but as he walked closer to me as I stood ‘loitering with intent’ on the Emirates Golf Club range, I recognised it was John Murphy.
No offence to John but at this early stage of any new season, I do struggle with faces and names.
“How are you, Bernie? Good to see you,” said the affable Irishman.
In the second I had to reply to his great welcome, I thought to myself, ‘is John into the field for this week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic?’
I responded: “John. Great to see you, as well, and greetings. What brings you here to the Emirates Club?”
The Kinsale golfer has been in Dubai for a week-and-a-half practicing and playing social rounds at Jumeirah Estates, the venue each year for the DP World Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
“It’s been nice out here enjoying the sunshine, working on my game and getting myself ready for the start of another golfing year,” he said.
After the early pro-career high of sharing ninth at the 2021 Dunhill Links Championship season, 2022 was not what Murphy had wished. He competed on the secondary Challenge Tour highlighting the season with back-to-back third place finishes at the Irish Challenge on the last day of July, and a week at the Finnish Challenge.
He entered the DP Tour World’s qualifying series and came through after 108 holes, including being four shots outside the top 25 heading to the final round in Spain to post a closing 65 to finish at 17-under and right on the 2023 card mark.
With a DP World Tour card in his wallet, he headed straight for South Africa and the opening events of the 2022/23 wraparound schedule but with the disappointment of missing the cut in all four events
Murphy’s feelings were tweeted from the Mauritius Open, and the last of the four events in saying: “Golf is hard man. Not the finish I wanted to the year but grateful for everything that happened in 2022. Excited for some well needed rest before getting ready for the 2023 season.”
Murphy’s DP World Tour exemption Category 17 (The leading 28 players from the 2022 Qualifying School followed by the next 2 players not otherwise exempt from the Order of Merit of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour and JGTO – with Murphy at No. 23) comes with the uncertainty where he will tee-up in this new season.
“I really don’t know where I will be teeing-up first this year given my Tour category but I am sure it will pan out and I will play a full season,” he said.
“If you get caught-up in seeking invitations and worrying about what events you may get in and what you won’t, it’s easy then to get distracted from what you are trying to achieve in the present.
“So, I’m just trying to work on these next few weeks and seeing where I will play.
“I’m fifth reserve in next week’s RAK Championship, so I should have a pretty good chance of getting into the event. So, I will just be ready when the time comes.
“It’s just going to be nice to get a scorecard back in my pocket as I’ve had a nice break over the winter, so I’ve come out here to work on the game, get myself in shape and be ready to go when I get the green light.”
As it happens, Murphy has now been confirmed in next week’s field. And as Murphy stood at the back of the Emirates practice range, he had the sight of many of the best on the DP World Tour working on their own games ahead of this week’s record-setting $US 9m event.
It prompted a last question along the lines that in looking at those on the range, he must feel that in securing his full Tour card he does belong on the DP World Tour.
“I’ve played enough DP World Tour events that I am good enough to get things firing and play well,” he said.
“It’s just the matter of fine-tuning everything in my game and getting out there and playing my best.”
Well said John and great to catch-up with you.