Mark Murphy “Big Break” victor on winning the Golf Channel’s “X Factor”
Irishman enjoying massive exposure and opportunity his Big Break has brought
The voyage to Royal Portrush and the 2012 Irish Open began many years ago with a bet struck at Waterville, a bet that launched the experience of a lifetime for Big Break winner Mark Murphy.
When Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell step it out on home turf next June they will joined by one Irishman whose journey North has been interesting to say the least.
A year ago, Mark Murphy was a sporting unknown in the final interview stage for the Big Break, American golf’s equivalent to the X Factor.
On New Year’s Day, his game show winning streak, at the K Club of all places, was repeated over and over again on the Golf Channel, the American TV station dedicated to the small ball game.
On the last Thursday of June, as part of his Big Break bounty, Murphy will tee it up alongside Clarke, McDowell, and Rory McIlroy on one of the finest links courses on the island of Ireland.
At 33 years of age, Mark Murphy is finally close to fulfilling his potential, but this is an overnight success story 19 years in the making.
His golfing tale begins with life as a 14-year-old caddy for a group of Americans, guests of a friend of his Garda dad Tom at the great Waterville links where mum Eileen oversees the food and beverage facility.
One visitor, a man with money and sense, offered the young Murphy a bet, what the Yanks like to call a wager, as they stood on the tee box of the par three 15th.
“He took his shot, hit the green and put to the ball to about 15 feet of the pin,” remembered Murphy, now back in New Orleans and ready to make the most of his Big Break.
“Then he turned to me and offered me a simple challenge – hit it inside his ball and I could have his clubs, his bag and everything in it.
“At the time golf wasn’t my thing. GAA was the big attraction locally and I played a bit but soccer was my game and that was difficult because you had to go to Tralee and that was over an hour away.
“I played a little bit of golf, my dad was a member at Waterville and that’s why I was caddying that day. So I was up to his challenge.
“I hit the shot, put my ball inside the American’s and he was true to his word. When the round was over he took his keys and his wallet from the bag and presented me with it.
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“The clubs were a full set of Tommy Armour A45s and I had them for years. I played with them all the time and went from a 16 handicap on my 16th birthday to scratch on my 18th.”
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