Early start to the season for Cork golfers

Fota Island’s John Doyle receiving the Munster U14 Order of Merit medal from Jim Long, also included is John’s Dad Barry.

It might still be the off-season for golf in Ireland but there are a few Cork golfers have already started their 2022 campaigns.  John Murphy competed in his fourth tournament of the new season in South Africa last week.  Murphy has had a busy start to the year, after a few weeks of preseason work in Spain he travelled to California for the AT&T ProAm in Pebble Beach.  Unfortunately for John he missed the cut but it was a big learning experience for him as he teed it up alongside the stars of the PGA Tour.  From there it was a sprint across the Atlantic to South Africa for the start of the Challenge Tour.  He finished just inside the top fifty in his opening event three weeks ago, and after missing the cut in the second event he went on to secure a top twenty finish in Durban last week.  Murphy has picked up close to €5,000 in prize money this season and he’ll be hoping for another good finish this week.

Murphy clocked up over €120,000 in his thirteen tour events last year after turning professional in June.  It was a sprint for the Kinsale man over the course of five months.  He played in nine different countries on three separate tours, but most importantly he finished inside the top 70 and secured a full Challenge Tour card for this year.  His aim this year will be for a place in the top twenty at the end of the season, enough to secure his place in the DP World Tour next year.

James Sugrue also picked up a cheque over the weekend. He was in action in Egypt at the opening series of events in the Alps Tour. The Mallow man picked up a full tour card at qualifying late last year and throat has allows him to focus on the satellite tour in the early part of the season.  Sugrue was one of eight Irish golfers in action in true Ein Bay Open and he picked up a top 20 finish.  He was within reach of a top ten finish in the final round until three bogies in a row on the back nine halted his march up the leaderboard.  He did manage to birdie the final two holes which put him back into the top twenty and meant a bigger portion of the purse on offer.  Unfortunately for James he did miss the cut in the Red Sea Little Venice Open earlier this week but he is in the field for the New Gisa Open which starts tomorrow.

The payouts are more modest in the Alps Tour but it does allow James an opportunity to plan a number of consecutive events, after Covid affected schedules in 2021 he was unable to plan a schedule.  Sugrue will be hoping for a good start to the season and that should bring a number of playing opportunities on the Challenge Tour.

John Murphy. Picture: Niall O’Shea

There was plenty of Cork interest in the Spanish Seniors Doubles last week.  Karl Bornemann teamed up with Irish Seniors International Steve Graham and the pair led the tournament after an opening 67.  They finished in a tie for third place after a second round 72.  Kinsale duo Shane Kenneally and Kieran McCarthy finished in the top ten after rounds of 69 and 71.  John O’Brien and Hugh O’Leary were also in action in Spain, the pair were in contention after an opening 69 but couldn’t match that in the second round.  The Spanish Senior Amateur singles followed but there wasn’t much joy for the Cork golfers.  John O’Brien shot rounds of 75, 74, 72 to make the top twenty and Shane Kenneally finished in the top thirty.

The seniors events have finished but the Spanish Amateur takes place this week in Sherry Golf in Jerez and Peter O’Keeffe will be looking to start where he left off in 2021.  The double Irish Champion has been focused on his own Golf Strong business as well as launching the F45 gym in Cork so he missed the Irish team trip to South Africa last month.  There’s a strong international field in the event so it’s the ideal place for O’Keeffe to see where his game is as he gets his season underway.

March will be the month that many club golfers return to the course.  For the first time since 2019 club can now look at running their club and open events over the full season.  Several clubs have announced dates for scratch cups.  Fota Island celebrated the achievement of two of their members recently.  James Ahern picked up his Golfer of the Year award and John Doyle received his Munster Order of Merit medal for topping the Under 14  championships last year.