Cork golfer John Murphy can drive on again after breakthrough season

Kinsale graduate and caddie Shane O'Connell had a hectic 2022
Cork golfer John Murphy can drive on again after breakthrough season

John Murphy and Shane O'Connell pictured during the Rolex Callenge Tour Grand Final at Alcanada Golf Club in Mallorca. Picture: Niall O'Shea

2022 was another impressive breakthrough year for John Murphy. 

The Kinsale club man spent his first full year on tour as a pro golfer and made the step up to the next level. Murphy started the year knowing he had a full schedule of events on the Challenge Tour and his aim would have been to do well enough to progress to the DP World Tour in 2023.

It wasn’t a straight line in terms of progress but by November Murphy had achieved the goal. Although he made the season-ending Race to Mallorca, Murphy missed out on a top-20 finish to claim a tour card. He picked up his clubs and moved on to Spain the following week and earned himself a full DP World card at the notoriously tough qualifying school.

It was a demanding year for Murphy and his caddie Shane O’Connell. The pair travelled to 36 events covering 15 countries including two transatlantic trips. Murphy started 2022 in California in January. Having secured an invite to the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro Am he headed out to Monterey early for 10 days of practice before making his debut on the PGA Tour. A three-under-par 69 was the highlight in round two but unfortunately for Murphy, he missed the cut by one shot.

From there it was on to South Africa for the start of the Challenge Tour season. He had six tournaments in the opening swing which would take him through the April. Murphy made the cut on three occasions and had two top 20 finishes. Although it was a mixed start it meant that Murphy was 43rd in the rankings.

After a few weeks off to recharge, Murphy was back in the US. This time it was the Byron Nelson in Dallas thanks to an exemption he received from winning the Byron Nelson Award while in college. From there Murphy went on the first European swing on the Challenge Tour with five events through May and June. This was the start of the intense travel for John as the five events were in five different countries.

John Murphy with Carmel, Owen and Faye after the final round of the Irish Challenge at the Palmer South course at the K Club. Picture: Niall O'Shea
John Murphy with Carmel, Owen and Faye after the final round of the Irish Challenge at the Palmer South course at the K Club. Picture: Niall O'Shea

Unfortunately, the results were mixed again, Murphy made three cuts but finished down the field. At that point, Murphy was 92nd in the rankings and outside the cut to even retain his Challenge Tour card.

July was when good things started to happen for Murphy. He received a last-minute call-up to the Irish Open in Mount Juliet and he was also invited to play in the JP McManus ProAm the following week. Both were great experiences for the Kinsale man and from there he went on a very impressive run. 

He picked up his first top-three finish of the season in The K Club at the Irish Challenge. Murphy opened with very impressive rounds of 66 and 67 to put him into the top three and in the third round he played in the final group. He slipped back on the Saturday with a 74 but a closing 70 in the final round left him in third place and over €17,000 in prize money. He followed that performance with another 3rd place the following week in Finland and with that, his card was secured.

Murphy eventually finished the season in 44th place, enough to get to the tour championship but not high enough to secure a DP World Tour Card. He travelled to Spain for the six rounds of final qualifying a week later and produced some of the best golf of his season. A final round 65 when under huge pressure gave John a top 25 finish and secured his playing rights at the top level for 2023.

In terms of prizemoney, Murphy pulled in over €80,000 and took his career earnings to €200,000. Given the travel involved it’s unlikely that there was too much change left from the prize money, but Murphy has the support of a number of Irish sponsors including Finbarr Galvin, Arachas, Sullivan Golf Travel, Martinsen Mayer as well as tour partners Titleist and Peter Millar.

The last leg of Murphy’s 2022 campaign was back in South Africa where it started in February. This time he was competing on the DP World Tour, just one week after winning his card in Spain in November. It was a tough run for John, he ended up playing in four events, missing four cuts.

While the results were disappointing, it was clear that the year had taken its toll on Murphy. 2022 proved again that Murphy is a resilient player, and can produce a few weeks of very good golf a few times a season. That should stand to him in 2023.

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