by Ronan MacNamara
John Murphy by Golffile
After a week away the Challenge Tour returns for the Emporda Challenge in Girona, Spain as Michael Hoey and John Murphy tee it up on the second-tier looking to take their form on the European Tour into the Road to Mallorca.
Situated in the heart of Costa Brava in the municipality of Girona, Empordà Golf has breathtaking surroundings. The Montgrí castle overlooks the landscape and can always be seen from the two courses at Empordà Golf, the castle view complimenting an abundance of dunes, lakes and bunkers through the Empordà Forest, which will provide a true test for the players this week.
Hoey arrives off the back of winning the team event at the Alfred Dunhill Links as well as a respectable individual performance where he finished 24th thanks to a final round of 69.
Ranked 32nd in the Road to Mallorca Rankings the five-time European Tour winner can take a step towards the top-20 on the Challenge Tour with a top-10 this week.
An encouraging performance on the European Tour will have given Hoey the encouragement that he can still cut it on the top-tier so opportunity looms large for the Northern Irishman who’s best finish on the Challenge Tour is a runner-up finish at the B-NL Challenge Trophy.
Murphy firmly caught the eye at the Alfred Dunhill Links a fortnight ago.
Teeing off in the final group the Kinsale native more than held his own as he shot a final round of one-under 71 to finish in a share of 9th place before backing it up with four rounds in the 60s as he finished in a share of 24th at the Spanish Open.
Back on the Challenge Tour this week it’s a little unfortunate the Walker Cup star didn’t gain Road to Mallorca points given his performances on the European Tour,
Arriving at 88th in the Challenge Tour rankings, Murphy’s golf over the past fortnight has warranted a higher ranking than 88th, but while narrowly missing out on a European Tour card at the Dunhill has he made it harder for himself to secure a card via the Road to Mallorca? Time will tell but to play well on the European Tour for two weeks and not get rewarded for it could be a blow in the long term.
This is the second last event before the Grand Final so the time is now for Hoey and Murphy to blitz the Challenge Tour and earn their card on the European Tour which is where they belong.