A KILKENNY golf professional has made the tough choice to hang up his clubs.
After 17 years on the professional circuit, Gary Murphy has decided to come off the course and take a new route in life.
“I’ve had a tough time the last couple of years and made the decision that I will pursue other opportunities in the future,” he said. “I’ve been a professional for 17 years, which has been an enjoyable experience, but the last two to three years have been tough.”
Murphy first fell under golf’s spell after acting as a caddy for his father, J.D. Murphy. A keen soccer player in his youth - Murphy had trials for the Irish under-13 and under-15 national sides - the lure of the smaller ball game saw him make the decision to concentrate on golf as a 16-year-old in 1988, a decision which seemed the right choice to make when he became a scratch golfer 12 months later.
The bug really bit when Murphy won the Irish Amateur Closed Championship in 1992, before he turned professional three years later. He won the Asian Tour School in the Philippines in 1997 and his card from the European Tour Qualifying School at fifth attempt in 1999.
Murphy played on the European Tour in 2000 but was back on the Challenge Tour for two seasons before winning the sixth card at the 2002 Qualifying School. He recorded his best Tour finish in 2008, finishing in a tie for third place in the Irish Open. It wasn’t his biggest purse finish, however, as his fourth place in the 2003 Barclays Scottish Open netted Murphy E159,870.
The 2003 season was his best on the tour, as Murphy collected E386,420. In 2008 he almost matched that figure, earning E301,792, but he put the near-miss at the Irish Open as the starting point on his road to retirement.
“It was a tough 18 months after the Irish Open,” he said. “For the 2009 I was on the road for 37 weeks and lost my tour card in Australia. I came home and had a week to gather my thoughts, then went off to Tour School.
“Remarkably I got through quite well, then had four days off before having to go to South Africa for two tournaments before Christmas. I had seven days at home, then it was back to South Africa for two more tournaments. There was no mental break. I carried that with me into the 2010 season and never seemed to get on top of it.”
While Murphy may have stepped off the course, he hasn’t finished with the game. Part of his life after the Tour will see him become a golfing analyst for Setanta, but he’s looking forward to exploring other avenues.
“I feel like I’ve been Gary the golfer all my life,” he said. “I’m looking forward to trying other things.”