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John Murphy and Tom McKibbin to bid for spots in The Open


Ireland's John Murphy. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland's John Murphy. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland's John Murphy. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Rookie John Murphy is ready to hit the ground running and battle for a dream place in The Open when he makes his debut as a DP World Tour player in the Joburg Open.

The Kinsale star (24) brilliantly won his card at last week’s gruelling 108-hole Qualifying School, by closing with a bogey-free, six-under 65 to make it with nothing to spare.

He’s joined at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg by Holywood’s Tom McKibbin (19), who became the youngest Irish golfer to earn his card since Rory McIlroy in 2007, by finishing a brilliant tenth on the Challenge Tour rankings.

​Both Irish players will be looking to win places in The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool with the leading three players, not already exempt, earning tickets to Hoylake next July.

Murphy, who finished a career-best tied ninth in the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrews in 2021, is certainly no stranger to South Africa, having played five Challenge Tour events there at the start of this year.

“Obviously, the grass types are a bit different, but it’s nice to be back here in the sun and get acclimatised,” said Murphy, who will have the opportunity to play three events in South Africa and one in Mauritius before Christmas.

“My energy levels are fine after Q-School. I got a few days at home, I don’t know how much rest I got as such, but I’m well able to keep going. Physically, the body feels like it could certainly go for another few weeks,” he added.

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As for his goals, the Cork man just wants to improve.

“Honestly, I’ve done a really good job the last few years of sticking to my process each and every week, and taking it as it comes. So I’m going to do that and, hopefully, just find ways to continue to get better and improve, and see where that leaves me at the end of the year.”

McKibbin racked up two of his eight top-10 finishes on South African soil earlier this year, and he won’t be intimidated by two of the world’s top 100 in South Africans, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and defending champion Thriston Lawrence.

Meanwhile, new world number 11 Leona Maguire tees it up in the LET’s season-ending €650,000 Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España looking to upstage Swedish stars Linn Grant and Maja Stark, who go head-to-head at Alferini Golf for the Race to Costa del Sol title.

Now the highest-ranked European in the world following her runner-up finish in the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday, the Co Cavan star will be looking for an early 28th birthday present and her maiden win in Europe, and her second this year following her LPGA win in February.

Grant can finish ahead, or level, with Stark and claim the season-long title, whereas three-time winner Stark must beat her compatriot to have a chance of ending the year as European No 1.

Australian PGA Championship, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 2.30am

Joburg Open, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 10am

Open De Espana, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 3pm

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