Kinsale’s John Murphy Makes ‘Dream’ Start to Pro Career
Writes Ciaran Dineen
Golf, as many know, is a sport that can make you feel like the best player in the world one week and make you want to quit forever and sell your clubs the next. While he is far from challenging the status of the World’s best at the moment, the fact that a young man from Kinsale is even playing on the same stage of some of his icons, is testament to the fantastic start to the career of John Murphy.
In June of this year, John announced that at the age of 22 he would leave behind amateur, collegiate golf, and take the giant leap into the pro golf game. Signing with management company, JMC Sport, the Kinsale man, now 23, joins the ranks of fellow pros Erik van Rooyen, Jonathan Yates, Sebastian Soderberg and Tom McKibbin, all managed by the same organisation.
John Murphy turned professional in 2021 closing out his amateur career in style representing Great Britain and Ireland in the 48th Walker Cup held at Seminole Golf Club, Florida. He has had an impressive amateur career with wins across Europe and the United States. Across Europe, John has won the St. Andrews Links Trophy and has held many representative honours for Ireland and GB&I throughout his amateur career.
Representing the University of Louisville, John won four NCAA events and recorded a number of top 10 finishes. He was recipient of the Byron Nelson award in 2020 securing him an invite into the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson PGA Championship. This award recognizes the top graduating senior in men’s collegiate golf in the USA who demonstrate a high standard of academics, excellent play, as well as good character throughout their entire college career.
In between in his four-year stint away in America, John would regularly come home to Cork and make regular appearances around Irish courses, but would always be found around his first home, Kinsale Golf Club. In the final summer before he returned for his last year at the University of Louisville, John returned home to Cork, playing in what would be his last ever Kinsale Senior Scratch Cup. Despite carding a course record round of 66 on the day, John was beaten in a playoff by another local Kinsale golfer, Kieran McCarthy.
Now an honorary member of his boyhood club, John has potentially forged a path for others to follow, with many young golfers, both from Kinsale and further afield, able to point to his achievements, knowing that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. The 23 year-old himself had others to look up to, with clubmates and friends Gary Ward and Cathal Butler setting the standard back in the early 2010s, as both went on to have very successful early amateur careers, representing Cork and Munster at various youth levels, while Cathal himself earned a golf scholarship to Maynooth University in 2015. John has however put himself on another level completely, and he is now a trailblazer that others will attempt to try and emulate.
2020 was a challenging year for most, and that didn’t escape Murphy, with collegiate competitive golf being halted for a prolonged period due to the pandemic. After spending Christmas on the range in Cork with coaches Ian Stafford and Paul Kiely, John returned to Louisville for his final semester earlier this year. It turned out to be a fantastic end to his amateur career, with John securing a place on the prestigious GB&I Walker Cup team, who faced the United States in May. The Kinsale man came out of the weekend with plenty of credit in the bank, despite the 14-12 loss. A month later he had turned pro, with an exciting but potentially daunting experience to come on the European Challenge Tour.
His new venture could not have started any better, as John began life as a Pro with a victory on his tournament debut, securing a win on the ClutchPro Tour at an event in Northern Ireland. However, that was just small fry compared to what was to come just a couple of months later for John, who has the chance to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour, at the beginning of October.
In only his third Tour event, the 23 year-old produced some stunning golf, three years on from winning the St Andrews Trophy, which clearly stood to him. Incredibly he managed to make into the final pairing with former Masters Champion and Ryder Cup player, Danny Willet. With all of Kinsale and most of Cork watching on from the telly, and a group of his friends and family grabbing a last-minute flight to catch the remaining round, John went on to secure a Top 10 finish, earning a cool €81,543 in the process.
It was a surreal moment for his parents; Carmel and Owen, and sister Faye, with the latter of the three telling The Carrigdhoun Newspaper what the early experience of seeing John play over the last number of months. “It was very strange watching John hit milestones on the TV, especially when we couldn’t be there with him due to Covid”, explains Faye. “When he was playing the Walker Cup, it was the biggest moment in his career up until that point, and I was very disappointed not to be there with him for that. Watching it on TV made it feel almost surreal. Thankfully restrictions have eased a lot and I have been lucky enough to get to cheer him on in person twice in the past few months. Seeing John make that birdie on the 18th on the final day of the Dunhill Links Trophy in St Andrew’s is something I’ll never forget. It was pure magic.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of time to celebrate the incredible achievement however, with John’s performance in Scotland securing him a place at the Acciona Open de España just a few days later. The 23 year-old put in another solid performance, finishing on 11 under par, in a tie for 24th place. Despite missing the cut back on the Challenge Tour event in late October, the Kinsale golfer’s results to that point were enough for him to clinch his Challenge Tour card for 2022.
While he is absolutely ecstatic to have achieved what he has over the past number of months, John knows that the road ahead may not be always as easy and straightforward. Speaking to The Carrigdhoun Newspaper about this he said, “yeah obviously things have gone pretty smoothly so far but I know this game takes you through a lot of ups and downs and I think I’m prepared for them. I know that if I keep believing and trust my process that I’ll be just fine. My only goal is to stay as present as possible. If I set myself goals then I start to think too much about results and everything that comes with it, so I need to put all that to the side and stay focused on the task at hand.”
The ‘Old Head’ is synonymous with Kinsale, and it seems that there is also an old head on John’s young shoulders, if you pardon the cliché. With an incredible amount of experience banked so far in his early career, and plenty of good people around him to keep him grounded, expect great things to come for John, both on and off the golf course.