RUMFORD, R.I. (June 18, 2014) -- The term ‘rising’ is thrown around quite often in the game of golf. It’s said that a certain player is a ‘rising’ junior or ‘rising’ sophomore.
For Will Murphy, winner of two of the game’s most prestigious titles already this season, the term we should be using is ‘risen’. Any way you slice it, though, it’s very clear that Murphy has arrived.
Murphy, who’ll be a senior at the University of South Carolina come fall, won the Azalea Invitational at The Country Club of Charleston (S.C.) in March before taking home the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur title last week.
The success, of course, has him fighting for yet another title in a Major of Amateur Golf this week at the Northeast Amateur.
Murphy shot a first-round 72 but stormed back for a 1-under 68 in Thursday’s second round. He’s now tied for ninth place entering Friday’s third round, hoping to get into position to make a run in Saturday’s finale.
“I had it going for a little while,” said Murphy, who got to 3-under on his 16th hole before a double-bogey six on the par-4 ninth -- his final hole of the day. “But I’m happy where I’m at when looking at the way scoring has gone.”
For Murphy, he’s in the right spot given his recent success.
In the game of golf, even -- and sometimes in particularly -- at the amateur level, ‘who’s next?’ is an ongoing question and debate.
In the land of high level, competitive golf, Jordan Niebrugge is perhaps the most recent player who’s risen in a rather short amount time.
Niebrugge, who’s also in the Northeast Amateur field, won the U.S. Public Links, Wisconsin State Amateur and the Western Amateur in short order last summer before being named to the U.S. Walker Cup squad.
For those close to Niebrugge and his play throughout the years, his fast success came as no surprise. And the same can surely be said about Murphy.
“For me, it’s obviously been a bit of a breakout,” Murphy said. “But I knew I was capable of this type of play. Some people might be surprised but in my mind, it was only a matter of time.”
Murphy admits that the only thing standing in his way at times has been himself. He feels he has grown in maturity and course management in the past year. Having a hot putter and consistently-solid ball striking never hurts, either.
“It’s been a dream of mine,” he said. “I have a two-week break coming up after the Northeast but as tired as I am, I don’t want to stop. You don’t feel like this every month. I know what I’m doing now gives me a chance to win week in and week out.”
The mountain top for the game’s top amateur golfers, of course, is the Walker Cup. And for Niebrugge, his rise came at the perfect time as the final roster selections for the international fall event had yet to be finalized.
The hope for players like Murphy, who are enjoying a great rise in a non-Walker Cup year, is undoubtedly to continue the consistently-high level of play.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” he said. “After I won the Azalea, I put things into perspective and made the Walker Cup a goal. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist and we wrote it down as a goal. It’s definitely something I strive for and on the back of my mind every tournament.
“Now, it’s more realistic.”
The Northeast would be yet another rather prestigious feather in the cap of Murphy. And two rounds of play, the ‘risen’ Columbia, S.C. native, is still in the mix.