With a victory on his professional debut, John Murphy could not have asked for a better start to life chasing prize money but the Kinsale golfer steps onto the Challenge Tour stage in France this week fully prepared for bumps in the road ahead.
Fresh out of the University of Louisville, Murphy, 22, announced his decision to turn pro on June 11 having signed to management company JMC Sport. Five days later he was celebrating victory on the ClutchPro Tour with his win at the Northern Ireland Open at Cairndhu.
“It’s been a busy few weeks and to be honest I only decided at the last minute to play the NI Open,” Murphy told the. “It was offering two spots up on the European Tour so I figured it was a good opportunity and luckily it worked out.
“I’ve been on private jets to (US collegiate) tournaments and had everything put in front of me, the best golf courses to play and the best facilities and we’ve been very lucky to get access to all that and I appreciate that.
“I know it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows out on tour.
“You’re coping for yourself out there and it’s an individual mindset now. I just have to be ready for that side of it, it’s not going to be easy and there’s much more pressure added on in professional golf than when you’re an amateur. I’m willing to accept that and be ready for it.”
The four-shot win in the 36-hole event at Cairndhu last Wednesday earned Murphy, runner-up Dermot McElroy and leading female Thalia Martin spots into next month’s mixed European Tour event, the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle but for the most part, the rookie pro will spend his summer playing off Challenge Tour invitations, the first of which comes at this week’s Open de Bretagne on France’s northern coast.
Murphy’s move into the pro ranks brings to an end an impressive amateur career that flourished at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and reached its climax with a Walker Cup performance last month that saw him partner Kilkenny’s Mark Power and contribute two points to the GB & Ireland cause in a narrow 14-12 defeat to the USA at Seminole GC.
“I’d anticipated finishing college in 2020 and maybe going to Q School at the end of the year. But then of course Covid came about and I had to rejig my plan and reassess things.
“It didn’t seem like a good time to be turning professional so I decided to go back to college for another year. And then the Walker Cup came around and I felt my game was in a good place to turn pro and didn’t have any hesitation in doing so.
“The time was right and there probably wasn’t a lot of reasons to stay amateur and I felt there was a lot more opportunity for me this year to turn professional.”
Murphy will look back on his amateur career with much fondness and gratitude.
“I’ve had different milestones in my amateur career, like I first won a Boys event when I was 18, that was pretty significant for me to be able to build off that and then I won at U21 level and then a year later went to college and then won at St Andrews (St Andrews Links Trophy, 2018). Winning certainly boosted from what I would say was an average Irish golfer to one who was able to compete at an international level. That gave me a lot of confidence.
“I’ve obviously had some lows but I’ve never really doubted myself since then and I’ve won college events in America, which is difficult to do, and that boosts the confidence even further.
“There were certainly some highlights for different reasons but it’s hard to look past St Andrews or the Walker Cup as the two highlights.”
Murphy’s senior year at Louisville also saw him pick up the coveted Byron Nelson Award for the leading graduating senior in US men’s collegiate golf demonstrating excellent play, a high standard of academics and good character. It has earned him a PGA Tour start at next May’s AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas.
By then, he hopes to have established himself in the pro ranks on this side of the Atlantic.
“I’ve got myself seven Challenge Tour invites over the summer through my management company which will be pretty huge for me because it’s not a case of coming straight out of college and onto tour. You have to work your way up and I’m willing to do that. Those Challenge Tour starts will be a great stepping stone for me, something great to work towards and try and get myself some status for next year.”