John Murphy can take inspiration from Danny Willett’s perseverance

Young Cork golfer will head for the Spanish Open where Jon Rahm is the star name

John Murphy didn't have to look too far to find inspiration as he negotiated the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links on Sunday in the company of Danny Willett. It wasn't just that the Englishman lifted the title, it was the back story of battling his way back to winning ways after a torrid couple of seasons.

As Murphy, just starting out on his own professional journey observed, “we’ve all had different trajectories and different routes to getting here (on tour). I’m not here yet. I hope pretty soon. But it was great to see Danny (work his way back to the top). He’s obviously done some incredible things in the game of golf. He has also gone through some tough times. It’s great to see somebody like that in fine form and pick up a trophy at a special place.”

In Willett's case, the former US Masters champion having fallen from a career high ninth in the world rankings down to 164th prior to the Dunhill win which moved him to 101st in the updated list, there were a number of reasons which contributed to his poor run of form.

“It’s been a very unfortunate last eight months, really. Every time the game (felt) like it (was) in a nice place, we’ve had a couple of things, issues with health, that you really can’t avoid. Covid, wisdom teeth, appendix; and they seem to have knocked us back a peg or two, never really been able to get any momentum going . . . this (win) seems quite out of the blue, but the practice I’ve been doing at home and the inner belief we have every time we get in a position to do something was proven again,” said Willett.

Murphy had a close-up and personal view of Willett's return to winning ways and will seek to bring his own momentum onwards to yet another tour stop this week, his tied-ninth finish in the Dunhill (where he played on a sponsor's invitation) earning him an exemption into the Spanish Open in Madrid where world number one Jon Rahm is the headline act.

A Walker Cup player earlier in the summer and a graduate of the University of Louisville, Murphy - the 23-year-old from Kinsale in Co Cork - had played mainly on the Challenge Tour, using invites, since turning professional.

His appearance in the Dunhill was just his third on the main circuit but, in those limited outings, and especially with the performance at the home of golf, Murphy has shown progress: he moved from 896th in the world rankings to 606th and has moved to 197th in the Race to Dubai. "You can always get better. I'm going to see what areas I can improve going forward, I'm looking forward to that improvement," said Murphy of his mindset going forward.

Murphy will likely have to continue to play his way into the remaining events on the European Tour - the Spanish Open starting an Iberian swing that also takes in the Andalucia Masters, the Mallorca Open and the Portugal Masters - if he is to manage to maintain that upward trending.

There are three Irish players in the field in Madrid, with Murphy joined by Jonny Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin.

First appearance

Graeme McDowell will make his first appearance of the new 2021/'22 wraparound PGA Tour season when he plays in the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas where Séamus Power - who saw his run of 11 straight cuts made end at the Sanderson Farms - will also be in the field in the desert.

Leona Maguire returned to LPGA Tour duty with a tied-34th place finish in the ShopRite LPGA Classic and remains in New Jersey for this week's tour stop, the Cognizant Founders Cup at West Caldwell. The 26-year-old Co Cavan golfer is aiming to take the confidence from her Solheim Cup exploits into the late season run, "knowing I can compete against the best player in the world, knowing that I can hole putts and hit those shots when I need to."

Maguire is riding high at 13th on the LPGA Tour season's order of merit but Stephanie Meadow - also in the field for the Founders Cup - is currently 101st on those rankings (needing to break back inside the top-100 to retain her full tour card for next season) and will be looking to bounce back from a missed cut in the ShopRite.

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