CORK'S John Murphy was back in college golf action last week for the first time in 10 months, but the Kinsale golfer has kept himself busy.
After working hard in Cork for the summer he travelled back to America last August, and he was determined to make to most of his extension as a student at University Louisville.
Murphy was a Senior last year but the cancellation of the second half of the season gave him another opportunity to compete in the 2021 NCAA college golf schedule.
It was a big decision to return in August when many European based golfers chose to stay at home, but it paid off for Murphy, providing him with the weather and the facilities to improve his game.
“I felt as though the semester was really productive. As always, I am just trying to learn and grow as much as possible as a player, and being in this environment certainly allowed me to do that.
I’m very happy with how I used my time and now I feel as though I have further grown as a player.
"The lack of college and lectures actually suited me, it meant I could dedicate my mornings to things like gym work and preparation for the day, and then focus on playing golf until it got dark. Evening times gave me a great opportunity to catch up on college work."
The event in Florida last week didn’t go Murphy’s way.
He had a disappointing 79 in the second round but bounced back in the final round with a six under par 66.
That saw him jump over 20 places on the leaderboard and was a sign that the form is still good.
The team got another boost on Saturday with a late call up to a tournament in California this week.
For Murphy and all college golfers, the key will be rebuilding the tournament feeling after several months without qualifying competitions.
It’s clear that Murphy made the best of the facilities, and the opportunity to effectively practice as a full-time golfer, so the decision to return to the US was one that he was very happy with.
In addition to the practice, there were a few playing opportunities.
Murphy made the most of it with a win and two top ten finishes to show for his six starts.
Those results, and the good conditions compared with and Irish Autumn worked to Murphy’s advantage.
“My decision to go back in the fall was one that could have gone either way, but being provided with the world class facilities that we have, gives me the perfect opportunity to get better, and that’s all I want to do.
Competitive golf is where Murphy is at his best.
From winning the Munster Boys in 2016 in Dromoland to his win in the Munster Students in Cork in 2017, he was used to winning.
His biggest win came in 2018 when he won the St Andrew’s Links at the home of golf in St Andrews.
With a decent shift put in from September to December, John returned home for Christmas, but it was slightly different from the Christmas holidays of previous years.
“The Christmas break was obviously a little different. It was great to get to spend so much time with my family.
"Not being able to see my friends was a bit frustrating but in the scheme of things, it’s quite irrelevant.
"Christmas is normally a time for messing around and having fun, but with the restrictions put in place this year, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to assess my game and put in a lot of hard work.
"There were a lot of cold mornings on the range or the course with Ian Stafford, but I am very pleased with the work we got done.
"Normally when I’m back home I don’t get much opportunity to really change anything because time is so limited, but I got to see a lot of Ian and Paul Kiely this Christmas and I feel great about where my game is at heading into 2021 as a result.”