Strange boost for Murphy

By Brian Keogh

Stefan Langer got skinned on his tour debut as Kilkenny cat Gary Murphy got a timely boost in the KLM Dutch Open.

The 16-year-old son of legend Bernhard Langer crashed to a 28 over par 98 that left him propping up the 156-man field.

But after firing a super 67, Murphy discovered that he had mysteriously jumped three places on the Order of Merit to 87th.

The former Irish champion was awarded an extra €8,500 after South African Dawie Van der Walt was belatedly disqualified from the Russian Open held three weeks ago.

Van der Walt finish fourth in Moscow but it was later discovered that he had signed for a wrong score.

As a result, Murphy improved from sixth to fifth in the event and also secured his tour card for 2008 as Van der Walt's earnings of €67,707 were redistributed.

Murphy got €52,465 and is on course for another good cheque on Holland after two birdies in the last three holes left him tied with German legend Langer on three under.

But it was a day to forget for Langer's son Stefan, 16, on his European Tour debut.

A plus-one handicap amateur, Langer Jnr had a seven-over 12 on his 11th hole where he lost two balls and then found himself unplayable.

But he also shot two triple-bogeys and four double-bogeys to equal the second worst score in the history of the European Tour.

While he was a long way adrift of Mark James' record worst 111 in the 1978 Italian Open, Langer Jnr was 21 shots worse than his father, who finished the day tied with Murphy after a 67.

Playing on a sponsor's invitation, Langer Jnr said: "It was discouraging. Tomorrow's going to be a challenge so I'm going to go away and work on some things.

"My chipping and putting was not bad but I've got to improve my driving. I hit only one fairway. This is a most punishing course if you don't drive well.

"I lost a couple of balls and the ones I found, some of them were unplayable, but I have not been confident with my swing for a couple of months.

"But I got an invitation to play and I thought it would be better than walking outside the ropes."

Dad Bernhard, who turns 50 on Monday, said his son had been playing much better when the pair committed to the tournament six months ago.

Since then the pair have started working on some drastic swing changes with their coach Willi Hoffmann.

And the senior Langer was not surprised that his son struggled to find his game at punishing Kennemer Golf and Country Club.

The two-time Masters champion said: "When you can't do the old swing or the new, you're caught in between and scoring mounts up rapidly then.

"The changes are pretty severe but he has to move forward if he wants to become a good player.

"He's got six years schooling to come, hopefully he will get on a college team and then we'll see how he measures up. I'm not going to push him, though."

Murphy, 34, birdied two of his last three holes for a 67 that left him just three shots behind leaders Jean Baptiste Gonnet of France and Japan's Taichi Teshima on three-under par.

With his tour card intact, the Irish star had two birdies and two bogeys in his first 10 holes before picking up three shots coming home.

Former US Open champion Michael Campbell bounced back to form with a five under par 65 that left him in a seven-way tie for second place.

But Waterville's David Higgins was just four shots off the pace in his bid for a European Tour card after a solid 68.

Higgins needs Damien McGrane hit a one over par 71.