CORK'S John Murphy is back in action in Portugal this week but last week enjoyed a rare week off, chilling out at home in Kinsale on his only break in a run of 11 tournaments in 12 weeks.
Murphy is cruising nicely on the Challenge Tour, with just five tournaments to go he’s inside the top 30 and has a real chance of securing a European Tour card in the next six weeks.
It’s Murphy’s second year as a tour professional and there was a bit of an adjustment for the Walker Cup player after an impressive finish to the 2021 season.
“It felt a bit different initially, I think I had to do a lot of work on dealing with pressures and expectations given what happened towards the end of last year.”
“Things went really well and I had myself in a position when I think I almost expected to come out this year and do the same thing and expected things to be easy.
"I tried to improve on that mindset throughout the year and I think I’ve done a good job on that this year. I think I managed my expectations well, especially in the middle of the year when things weren’t going as I would have hoped.
"I just said that good things will come if I just stick with what we were doing. With Ian and Shane and Fergus we put in some really good work during the year to help me maintain that focus of staying in the present.
Murphy is clear about the overall goal, moving up to the DP World Tour but he’s realistic about opportunity and the challenge ahead.
“I’d be lying if I said the target wasn’t to get into the top twenty and get a main tour card for next year,” said John.
“Ian put it very well a few weeks ago when he said we’re prepared for all outcomes and whatever will happen, and I’m in a good position to try and push my way up the rankings.
"It might happen this year, it might not but deep down I’m confident I’ll have my tour card eventually I hope so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. If it doesn’t happen I’ll pick myself up and go again.”
John has banked over €60,000 in prizemoney this year but with tournaments costing up to €4,000 staying on tour is an expensive business. Working with his manager Emma O’Driscoll from JMC Sport, he has a number of Irish sponsors including Finbarr Galvin, Arachas, Sullivan Golf Travel, Martinsen Mayer as well as tour partners Titleist and Peter Millar.
All help to allow John and his team to focus on his game. The team is important too, along with Emma the team includes his coach Ian Stafford and caddie Shane O’Connell.
Peter O’Keeffe works with John on his conditioning while Fergus Wallace is his sports psychologist.
John has worked with Shane since he turned pro last year; he is a key support for Murphy and one he values.
“The more time we’re spending together the more we’re learning about what works best for us on the course.
"I think he has a very good grasp of what works well for me and we’re trying to keep learning together. If we can keep doing that we’ll be in a pretty good place - and we’re still friends so that helps.”
Getting back to courses for the second time is also a bonus for the pair as they navigate the busy season.
“I find that when you’re in the middle of a busy stretch it was nice to be able to take a day off and not to have a play a practice round to learn about the course, and I felt a couple of times this year with the courses we went back to.
"That will be the same coming into the busy stretch to finish the year, so we’ll try to manage our time and how we prepare for events.
"There’s just one course I’m going back to that I know but that the middle of the five events so it’ll be nice not to overwork ourselves that week. Not overworking on any week is important and that’s something we’ve worked on this year.”
Murphy has just finished his longest stretch of tournaments, a seven-week stint that saw him take in six different countries.
The run was crucial as he moved from 89th in the rankings to 28th. Murphy is in Portugal this week for the start of the final stretch of the season and he’s happy with the improvements since July.
“Absolutely, there were lots of positives to take from it.
"I wasn’t sitting too pretty for a while in the rankings, but I think I’m in a pretty comfortable position now and the game has been trending in the right direction so I’ll try and keep that going."
The highlight of the run was a third-place finish in the K Club and John was delighted to his family and friends got to see him in action.
“They hadn’t seen me play well in a tournament for a while so it was great to have them up there and there was a great buzz around the place, it was pretty special.
"When you go to some of the Challenge Tour events you can feel like you’re on your own, so it was nice to have that support and for Ian to be able to get up the road to see me and to have all my team there.
"It was great to have all the support from Kinsale Golf Club and my friends and family in Kinsale and Cork."