Murphy trades real estate for Tour starts
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
As Trevor Murphy reached the 16th tee during the final round of Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, he and his caddie knew exactly what he needed to do, although it was a daunting task.
“With the amount of pressure and the way I was hitting it … I thought I was toast,” he says with a laugh from his home in Arizona.
Murphy dug deep, however, and birdied his final three holes of the day to make it inside the top 45 on the number, earning eight guaranteed starts on the 2018 Web.com Tour.
For Murphy, whose wife Amanda is expecting their second child in January, it was the culmination of a whirlwind stretch of time away from golf.
Murphy and Amanda live just 40 minutes from Q-School’s Final Stage site in Chandler, Arizona. The Murphys, who own a few rental properties around Scottsdale, spent most of 2017 flipping houses. He didn’t have a place to play this year.
Getting through Q-School marks a new start for the veteran, who hasn’t played a full season on the Web.com Tour since 2014.
The native of Vermont began Q-School with a 76. He was so far out of it that he admits he didn’t have any expectations heading into the second round, other than knowing he needed to try to put the pedal down as far is it could go and see what happened.
What happened was Murphy ended up shooting one of the rounds of the week. He fired an 11-under-par 61 to start climbing the leaderboard.
Murphy missed a 4-footer for birdie on No. 1 and another 6-footer for eagle on the front nine during that second round, and he couldn’t believe how much the momentum turned his way after his opening-round struggle.
“It just happened. I just knew … either I was going to make birdies, or I wasn’t and I wasn’t going to have a place to play,” he says. “I was so far out of the mix that it was easy to get into that mindset.”
A 66-71 weekend saw him make it into the top 45, and although he needed a semi-miracle to make it, his veteran poise allowed him to dig into the memory bank to find another time when he came through in the clutch with birdies on a big stage.
At the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York, Murphy birdied holes 16-18 on Friday to make the cut and slide into a tie for 12th heading into the weekend. He was able to lean on that experience at Q-School.
“I saw the scoreboard and we knew we needed to birdie the last three holes going into No. 16. I knew what I had to do; it was just executing that was the hard part,” he says. “I had done it before, but when I played in that (U.S.) Open I was fresh out of college, not jaded, and just kind of young and stupid.”
Murphy says things have changed immensely since he played that U.S. Open, where he played with Dustin Johnson in the third round, and had a chance to play with Tiger Woods (if he had birdied two of his final three holes on Friday versus making three in a row).
He admits he was playing for his livelihood this time around at Q-School.
“There wasn’t much weight at the U.S. Open, which doesn’t sound great – saying there was no weight in a major – but I knew this week would affect my career more, versus making the cut at the U.S. Open,” he says.
“I knew I could do it, but this is the most pressure I felt ever on the golf course.”
Murphy told Amanda earlier in 2017 that this year’s Q-School stretch was indeed for his livelihood because he didn’t want to chase starts on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada or PGA TOUR Latinoamerica with a family at home.
“I either wanted to play on the Web.com Tour or the PGA TOUR, or I didn’t really want to play,” he admits.
During Q-School, Murphy didn’t even get a chance to play or practice very much, as he and Amanda were busy with their real estate dealings. After First Stage, Murphy rented a U-Haul and moved his wife and daughter into an unfinished house he was remodeling.
He then filled up four 40-yard-long dumpsters just before Second Stage with garbage from that house he’s renovating – with his wife eight months pregnant.
“There has just been so much stuff. It’s been really hard to focus on my game, to be honest,” he explains.
But Murphy managed to get the job done at Final Stage.
He says he loves (“loves, loves”) playing golf, and is inspired by many TOUR players who he gets games with most weeks at his home club, Whisper Rock. It’s not unusual to see Murphy play with TOUR winners like Chez Reavie, past U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, and Kevin Stadler.
“They’ve been telling me … ‘Hey, you’ve got the talent. You just have to get out there,’” he says. “I’ve been playing really well the last two years, but I just haven’t been able to (get status).”
Murphy says he is worried about how it’s going to go traveling with his family, or being away from them for a long stretch – when he last had Web.com Tour status, it was just he and Amanda, who traveled with him – but he’s more determined than ever to find success for his supportive family.
“I want to move forward and get my TOUR card,” he says. “And I think I’m going to be more focused.”