Hurley and Murphy seeking diamonds in the rough in Antwerp

Mark McGowan

Gary Hurley at the Final Stage of Qualifying School at Lakes Course, Infinitum (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Gary Hurley and John Murphy are in desperate need of inspiration and as the DP World Tour stops in the diamond capital of the world, they’ll be hoping to find a gem of their own between the ropes at Rinkven International Golf Club.

With time running out, both Waterford’s Hurley and Kinsale’s Murphy need to find something special if they’re to avoid a return to DP World Tour Q-School later this year, and what better place to start than this week’s $2 million Soudal Open in north Belgium.

After successfully navigating the tour’s entrance exams at Infinitum last November, Hurley made a bright start to his rookie campaign, posting a season-high T14 finish at the Mauritius Open back in mid-December, but after resuming his assault in Ras Al Khaimah back in February, has found the going tough and arrives in Antwerp on the back of six straight missed cuts.


Murphy’s struggles extend back a little further, and he’s yet to earn his first paycheck in his maiden campaign on Europe’s premier circuit, but one good week can change all that and kickstart a late rally that could see both men retain their playing rights for 2024.

Thomas Detry will spearhead the home challenge, and though the current world number 90 has been plying his trade primarily on the PGA Tout this season, returns with hopes to make amends for missing the cut in last year’s staging, and with Thomas Pieters move to LIV, Detry and former Ryder Cup star Nicholas Colsaerts will carry the flag for the host nation.

Hot on the heels of a fourth-placed finish at the Italian Open, Swede Alexander Björk starts as favourite with the bookmakers, with Detry, Adrian Otaegui and Yannick Paul next in the market. The latter currently lies third in the European Points List for Ryder Cup qualification, with only Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy ahead, but will need to maintain his form through the summer if he’d likely to maintain his position with three majors and a Rolex Series event yet to come.

Another who’ll be on Luke Donald’s radar is Dane Thorbjørn Olesen who made his Ryder Cup debut at Paris’ Le Golf National back in 2018. The reigning British Masters champion captured his second recent DP World Tour title in Thailand earlier this year and after a ten-week break, returned to tour competition with a T40 finish in Rome and will fancy his chances against a weaker field in Belgium this week.

Eddie Pepperell, Jorge Campillo, Marcel Siem, Sami Valimaki and Alex Fitzpatrick are among the other notable names who’ll tee it up, though there’ll be no title defence from Sam Horsfield as the Englishman is one of several players expected to announce their DP World Tour resignations having defected to LIV Golf last summer.

Hurley tees off at 08:30 on tee number one alongside Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia and Frenchman David Ravetto, and Murphy goes out in the second-to-last group off the tenth at 14:20 with South African Darren Fichardt and local man Charles Roeland for company.

The threeball of Detry, Campillo and Edoardo Molinari will headline the morning coverage, with Oleson joined by Scottish two-time DP World Tour winner Ewen Ferguson and former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn as the marquee group in the afternoon wave.


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