John Murphy rued a disappointing front nine in St Andrews today as dropped one spot to finish second at the R&A Scholars Tournament. After 36 holes on the Eden Course in St Andrew’s on Monday, Murphy led the field by two shots. By doing so he started the third round in the final grouping on the famous Old Course. Scoring was difficult on the normally manageable links, tough winds meant that there were several returns in the high seventies and eighties. Murphy suffered on the greens on the way out, with an uncharacteristic number of three putts and a rare double bogey. He turned on +5 for the day to drop himself back into the field and two more bogies followed on the 11th and 12th holes. To his credit, Murphy bounced back with three birdies on his last seven holes and the turn-around in form meant that he finished in a tie for second place. John’s Maynooth teammate Stuart Grehan carded a very tidy level par 72 to win the tournament by three shots.
Speaking after his round Murphy admitted that his touch was off in the tough wind on the opening nine holes: “The front nine was a disaster. I had seven 3 putts on the front 9, the wind was as strong as I’ve played in and I really struggled to put a stroke on it. I knew if I had a good back nine I could get back into it, but it just all came too little too late. I made a few really nice birdies coming in to recover the damage, but it wasn’t enough.”
With a win already in the bag for 2017, Murphy was in a reflective mood after a testing day in the home of golf: “I’m obviously sickened but there was so much to learn from this event. This time three years ago if you’d told me I would be leading an event in St.Andrews with a field like that I would have laughed at you. I’m feeling really good about the coming year, I’m starting to learn how to score low and I feel I’m ready for men’s championships this year. Next up is the west, really looking forward to my first stab at it and hopefully I can get into contention again.”