Kinsale’s John Murphy tees it up in the AIG Irish Amateur Close at the European Club today determined to head back to the US with another major title in his carry-on luggage.
The 20-year-old St Andrews Links Trophy winner knows that if he can add to his victory at the Home of Golf, he will be a certainty to join close pal Robin Dawson from Tramore in the three-man Irish team competing for the Eisenhower Trophy in the World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House next month.
World number 9 Dawson, already guaranteed his place at Carton House as Ireland’s top-ranked player, is not playing at the Brittas Bay links as he prepares for the US Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach.
But the other two places are very much up for grabs and while Murphy, South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty, Lahinch runner-up Rowan Lester from Hermitage, Portmarnock’s Amateur Championship semi-finalist Conor Purcell and Castle’s Alex Gleeson could all be named in the team due to be announced late next week, much will depend on who wins the “Close”.
“I go to every tournament expecting to win and that hasn’t changed,” Murphy said before taking on the fearsome Co Wicklow links for the first time.
“So I come here hoping to get a good result.
“There are a lot of high-quality players here who are capable of winning and a lot of guys who haven’t got a world ranking who are also capable.
“I just know it is going to be tough out there and the course is going to be a brute. I just have to take it match by match and see how far I can go.”
It’s all a bonus for Murphy, who was not considered a serious candidate for the Eisenhower Trophy before he won at St Andrews.
Following his win there and his run to the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship, he joined Dawson and Purcell in the Great Britain and Ireland St Andrews Trophy.
On paper, those three are favourites to make the three-man Irish team for the Eisenhower Trophy but Murphy knows you can never rule anyone out.
“It’s mad to think how things have changed,” Murphy said. “If you’d told me at the start of summer I’d make St Andrews Trophy team, I’d have laughed at you but I’m, not complaining.
“It’s my last tournament before I head back to Louisville and it would be a treat to finish up on a high note. All I can do is do my best.”
The top 64 after tomorrow’s second qualifying round at The European Club will qualify for the matchplay stages on Monday with playoffs rather than a countback being used to break ties.