THIS IS ME

Meet John Murphy: Dreaming about his PGA Tour debut as he eyes silverware in 2022

by Ronan MacNamara

Kinsale’s John Murphy is relishing the prospect of making his PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am next month.

The 23-year-old, playing on a sponsor’s invite, will join Seamus Power in the $7.8 million event and he sees no reason why he can’t raise a few eyebrows at the top of the leaderboard.

“It's going to be something to enjoy,” he said. “When you're growing up, you just dream about playing the PGA Tour. That's kind of the way golf goes. That's where you want to be, so it's a bit surreal that I get to go over there and compete at that level.

“I've always had a why not me attitude towards the game. Any tournament I go to, I don't want to just go to compete, I want to go thinking that I have a chance to win”. 

“So yeah, I suppose that's just one thing I've always said to myself before an event is why not me?” 

“You know there's going to be 150 players there, somebody's going to come out on top at the end of the week. I suppose playing good golf will take care of everything and if you can just keep making good swings and keep making birdies then the rest will look out for itself and hopefully that will find you towards the top of the leaderboard,” he added.

“Pebble Beach is somewhere I've never been either, so I'm going to go a couple weeks early and get some work in practicing over there before the tournament actually starts”.

Murphy has been inspired by Power’s exploits on the PGA Tour and is backing the Waterford native to tee it up at the Masters in April.

“It’s easy to tell how hard he has worked on his game to get to where he is. The first time I met him was in 2017. I was playing a college event and he was friendly with my college coach at the time, so he came out and walked a few holes with us in the practice round and spent a bit of time with me which was cool”.

“Given the way he is playing, I don’t want to jinx anything if he keeps doing what he is doing he will be just fine. If he happened to not make it this year I’m sure he’ll be at plenty of Major championships in the future so there’s no need to be stressing too much over it I don’t think.

“I can’t see him moving anytime soon and he seems to have such a great attitude towards golf and life so it’s very inspiring for me and I’m looking forward to getting out to Pebble [Beach] and meeting him again.”

Murphy will also tee it up at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

The Cork man burst onto the scene at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole forming a superb partnership with Kilkenny’s Mark Power, winning two points in the foursomes as GB&I fell to a narrow defeat to the USA.

It is a week arguably best remembered for the visitors being hit by food poisoning, bringing back memories of Tottenham Hotspur missing out on Champions League football when they fell foul to a dodgy lasagne.

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John Murphy by Golffile

“I suppose it's very hard to forget that week. I think the whole atmosphere in the Great Britain and Ireland team room just made it such an enjoyable week. 

“Yeah, it was a shame that a lot of us got sick that weekend. It was a shame that many of the golfers from England were coming after a few months in lockdown, so you know, the odds were certainly stacked against us going into it. There was something bittersweet about putting up a good fight. Nobody really expected that, you know, it was a very closely contested match. We played well. The whole team got on great it was clear to see we were up for it.

“It was just a shame that coming down the last few holes there on the last day it just kind of swung the other direction. 

“But yeah, an incredible week, was obviously great to play with a good friend in Mark Power. We had such a good time that together, so yeah certainly a week I won’t forget.”

The University of Louisville graduate turned pro immediately after the biennial contest.

“To be honest I was always going to turn pro in June regardless of whether I made the Walker Cup team. I wouldn’t have felt like my amateur career was complete without playing Walker Cup as much as I convinced myself it didn't matter”. 

“But yeah, thankfully I picked up a few good results to get in the team. And after that I might have got caught up in focusing on the professional game too early and not staying as present as I could have been and finished my amateur career the way I would have liked”.

“Certainly, turning professional was something I wanted to do for a few years and certainly a decision I’m glad I made.”

Murphy enjoyed a great season on the Challenge Tour, registering five top-11s to finish in the top-70 in the rankings and earn full status for this season.

His professional career may be in its infancy, but he feels very comfortable playing on Tour and has enjoyed playing in front of crowds in his DP World Tour starts.

“It could have gone a few different ways there towards the end of the year there was so much happening so quickly between the Challenge Tour and European Tour,” said Murphy who missed the cut in the final Challenge Tour event of the season.

“I could have got my European Tour card at one point then could have not had any status whatsoever next year, so to be sitting with the full card for the Challenge Tour next year is certainly a weight off the back that I don't have to be worried about invites and stuff. I have a full schedule to play in so that was very important especially with Q-School being cancelled.

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John Murphy by Golffile

“I suppose just looking forward to this year just makes my life a lot easier, and certainly I wouldn't have said no to the few months I had at the start of my professional career and hopefully plenty more to come,” he added.

“There was a nice gallery at the Walker Cup and then even the first event I played at the Northern Irish Open all the members were out watching so it was cool. I've always enjoyed playing in front of crowds. I think every golfer wants to do that and try and show off a bit so I didn't find that too intimidating thankfully.”

After taking a break to come home to visit family and meet up with friends, Murphy spent a few weeks in the Algarve, stepping up his preparations for the new season.

After his PGA Tour debut, it will be straight back to reality as he flies to South Africa for the Challenge Tour opener. He is focused on improving his game on the second-tier and hopes, that if he plays well, promotion to the DP World Tour will take care of itself.

“I'm going to try and stick to the challenge tour as much as I can this year and try to solidify my status and climb up there as much as I can. As far as DP World Tour starts go, I'm not sure yet. Hopefully they transpire if I keep playing good golf. But for now, my focus is the Challenge Tour. If I can play well, I will have as many DP World Tour starts as I want. You can't get too far ahead of yourself in this game either. You must appreciate what you have and realise that you're not yet where you want to be”.

“If I can get into that winning position in a couple of events, that's where I am comfortable. That's where I like being. I think all of this would come down to me just staying present and just making good swing after good swing and if I can do that and put myself up towards the top of leaderboards I'm hoping the rest will look after itself,” he added.

Murphy caught the eye at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he teed off in the final group alongside 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett where he finished 9th for his first top-10 on the DP World Tour.

While he was rubbing shoulders with players he watched on television growing up, he relished the situation he was in and hopes to put himself in a winning position again this season.

“It was a bit strange at the time when you are teeing off in a group and you are surrounded by Shane [Lowry] Tyrrell [Hatton] and Danny [Willett]. All the lads you grew up watching on TV on a weekly basis. To be in that environment was really cool and to not be intimidated I think gave me a lot of confidence. I was very comfortable out there and I certainly did not feel too intimidated by anybody around me. That gives me a lot of confidence going forward”.

“It’s a shame that I couldn’t finish a few spots higher and push towards the lead. I went into that week with the why not me attitude and I just didn’t play well enough on the last day but hopefully I get that opportunity again soon.”

Willett won at a canter in the end and Murphy was very impressed by the display the eight-time DP World Tour winner produced.

He was also quite touched by the support Willett gave him while trying to hold off Lowry and co. on the final day.

“He just oozes confidence. He’s very assured of himself. He just knows exactly what he's doing and he sticks to it and to see that in this high intensity situation where he was being chased by a bunch of great players like Shane and Tyrell, he just wasn't fazed in the slightest even when things weren't going his way. His body language stayed the same, everything was the same. It’s great to learn from somebody who is a prolific winner like Danny is. Putting myself in that environment and seeing how the best players in the world act around me was cool”.

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John Murphy by Golffile

“He went about his business, but at the same time he was just very helpful in some ways, like when I was standing over a putt he would say ‘roll it in pal’ or something like that. Just small things like that he didn't have to do because I wouldn't blame him for being so consumed in his own game in that kind of situation”.

”He was just really nice, friendly, really easy to get along with and play with so yeah I’d love to play again with him soon and hopefully in a similar environment,” he added.

Murphy also finished in a share of 24th at the Spanish Open where Jon Rahm headlined the field.

The Walker Cup star crossed paths with the world number one and was surprised with how nice the Spaniard was when they met during practice.

A video circulated on social media. Rahm might be part of the John Murphy fan club!

“I met him on the chipping green on the first day my caddie went over to take a picture of his bag and my bag which were sitting next to each other. So my caddie was taking a picture and Jon just turned around and said ‘hey that's 20 bucks,’ so we got a good laugh off that and he started telling us a couple of stories about how he does that to the kids over in the United States when they asked for pictures and stuff”.

“He just seems so normal and nice about everything. Then there was a video throughout the week where I was on the tee box on 18 and my friend who was over watching me took a video and Jon, I think bogeyed the hole before so he was taking some time out on one of the other tee boxes and he just watched me swinging, which is pretty cool”. 

“I suppose he's on another planet now in terms of his golf. You know he's obviously number one in the world for a reason, and I can't see that changing anytime soon.

“It was a bit mad. I’m not sure how much attention he was paying to me but it looked like it anyway!”

A big year is ahead of the Munsterman who was tipped to be the next Irish golfer to make the breakthrough behind Rory McIlroy and Lowry before Power took the world by storm.

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