If at first you don’t succeed, try again, and again, and again… 13 times to be exact in the case of John Murphy as he’s strived for weekend work in recent weeks.
Since displaying nerves of steel to win his DP World Tour card at Q-School last year, the Kinsale man has been on a luckless run amounting to 12 missed cuts on the spin, including two back in Challenge Tour company in March.
At last week’s Italian Open, Murphy looked to have put himself in position to arrest this worrying trend but followed an opening 71 at Marco Simone with a second round ten shots worse to crash out on day two.
A week is a long time in golf and Murphy opened his account at this week’s Soudal Open with a two-under 69 but after two holes on Friday, he had to dig about as deep into the well as he ever has to avoid thinking ‘not again’– a bogey, double-bogey start ejecting him outside the projected cut mark.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it,” Murphy says of the magnetism of golf’s dividing line.
“I’ve been working really hard on the mental side of the game the last few weeks because inevitably you know you’re going to have these thoughts in the back of your mind.
“After that bogey-double start, the easy way out there would’ve been to say to myself ‘here we go again, another one of these’.”
The first cut is the deepest as they say but rather than succumb to GroundHog Day and let the mist descend, Murphy walked to the third tee-box with a liberating sense that today was different.
“I can’t remember exactly what I said but I said something to Shane [O’Connell – caddie], just took the p*ss out of him a bit and I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, even his time last week I wouldn’t have been in the frame of mind to do that’,” Murphy says.
“From there I just tried to stay in a positive frame of mind all day and stay as present as possible. I had my measures of success for the day and if that led to a score that was good enough to make the cut then great, and if not there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”
As it happened, Murphy’s measures of success delivered birdies at four and six before two more were added on his inward half. At the time he was three shots to the good stepping onto the 18th tee, yet still the magnetic pull of that halfway mark wasn’t to be avoided; the situation dragging Murphy’s tee-shot left and into the trees where disaster might’ve loomed.
“Subconsciously maybe I’m thinking about it but I was very comfortable with the 3-wood,” Murphy says.
“I hit a terrible tee-shot off the first and after that I regrouped off the tee all day really well but on 18 I hit the exact same shot as I did on the first. I don’t know, maybe it was a combination of a little bit of mental and technical… I don’t know really.”
Whether the mind and body conspired against him for the last tee-shot of the day is now irrelevant as both were perfectly in sync for an up-and-down from the bunker for bogey that Murphy puts right up there with his very best.
“That up-and-down was certainly one of the most satisfying I’ve ever made,” he says. “Given the situation I was in, given the fact I put myself behind the eight-ball the whole way up the 18th and I still managed to make one of the best up-and-downs of my life to make the cut was incredibly satisfying. It’s satisfying to see all the hard work I’ve put in paying off.”
That up-and-down projects Murphy into the weekend on the mark. All-told, he signed for 71, ensuring safe passage to a payday at long last. At two-under par, he sits outside the top-50 but after months trying to chip away at a boulder on his chest, the 24-year old can finally breathe in the hopes of freewheeling into moving day with a missed cut monkey ridded from his back.
“100%,” he says. “It’s the first time in the last few where I’ve been on the cut-line and I’ve come out on the right side of the number.
“All day I felt like I did a really good job of managing myself and controlling myself and that’s what I’m after really – I want to be able to control myself as best I can.
“I’m after that sense of self-mastery and if I can do that in high pressure situations, which today, every shot given the circumstances of what I’ve been through over the last few months, every single shot was a pretty high pressure situation.
“I probably wasn’t flowing as freely as a lot of players out there today [laughing] but I felt like I handled myself really well under a lot of high pressure, and myself and Shane made some good decisions that should bode well for the weeks ahead.”
- Full scoring HERE
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