John Murphy is looking to take positive momentum into 2022 and build on an impressive first season on the European Challenge Tour.
The Irishman turned professional in June 2021 before making 12 starts on the Road to Mallorca, recording a top ten finish at the Sydbank Esbjerg Challenge and a third place finish at the Empordà Challenge in Spain.
The 23-year-old is delighted to have secured a full category on the Challenge Tour for 2022 and is relishing the opportunity to compete this year.
“I think overall I was pretty happy with my performances,” he said. “If you told me at the start of last year that I would have a guaranteed full card for this year then I would have been very happy. That was very important for me, especially because there was no Q School. It makes things much easier for me heading into this season from a planning perspective.
“I really enjoyed my first season on the Challenge Tour. The travelling gets a bit stressful at times but I certainly enjoyed the aspect of competing on a weekly basis and seeing new courses around the world. I know this is what I want to do.”
Murphy was part of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team who took on the United States at Seminole Golf Club in May 2021, joining the likes of Pádraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy in Ireland’s Walker Cup roll of honour. Despite defeat, the Irishman impressed in the prestigious amateur competition securing two points in the foursomes as he was paired with countryman Mark Power.
The 23-year-old believes playing in the Walker Cup, one of the most prestigious events in amateur golf, was the perfect preparation for making the step into the professional game. The highly pressured scenarios the competition created meant he was more comfortable in taking on the rigorous and cut-throat nature of the Challenge Tour.
“The Walker Cup was a huge steppingstone for me,” said Murphy. “I knew I was turning professional in June so it would have been a bit bitter for me to turn pro without having played the Walker Cup because it was something I had always wanted to do. It’s a shame that I didn’t bring back the trophy for Great Britain & Ireland but I’m sure they will have their chance in a couple of years.”
Murphy received an invite to play on the top tier in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September, and after rounds of 69-69-67 the Irishman sat in a tie for second place heading into the final day, just three shots off Englishman Danny Willett. Murphy posted a final round of 71 to finish in ninth place as Willet stood firm to secure his eighth DP World Tour win, but the experience left the 23-year-old with a desire to compete at that level on a regular basis.
“That experience was incredible,” he said. “From the start of the week to the finish of the week, whether I finished first or last it was such a great experience and I was comfortable in that environment. It’s certainly something that excites me moving forward because that’s where I want to be on a weekly basis. I need to make sure I keep the foot down now and keep making those improvements to get there.”
Murphy believes his top ten finish in Scotland was key to his third place at the Empordà Challenge just two weeks later and admits he will need to produce those kinds of performances on a more consistent basis this season if he is to earn graduation to the DP World Tour.
“The third place in Empordà came from playing well on the top tier a couple of weeks before,” said Murphy. “It filled me with confidence that if I played good golf I would be right up there. It doesn’t matter what Tour you’re on, if you’re playing good golf you will be towards the top of the leaderboard and thankfully that’s where I found myself. I know that my game is good enough, I just need to iron out a few of my weaknesses to ensure that I am up the top more often.
“There’s not a big difference between the quality on the DP World Tour and the Challenge Tour. If you shoot 16 under on the Challenge Tour, it’s common that it’s still not good enough to win. I’ve tried to forget about where I’m playing and consume my thoughts more on how I’m playing on an individual basis.”
Murphy finished 69th on the 2021 Road to Mallorca Rankings and will be looking to break into the top 20 this year to earn 2023 DP World Tour playing privileges. The full 2022 Road to Mallorca schedule can be viewed here.