Fair play to Gary Murphy. Ranked 145th in the Race to Dubai before the Madrid Masters, he came in tied for fourth and is now 120th.  Not safe yet but with two reasonable results in his next two starts, he can probably cancel that trip to the Q-School.

It was a great performance under pressure, but it also raises the question: If he can play like that when he’s under the cosh, what on earth has he been doing for the first ninth months of the season?

Thinking about his tour card is one possible answer, or as Murphy put it in the Spanish capital: “Listening to the mad dogs barking.”

The Kilkenny man probably will need another €20,000 to make his card safe and if he can avoid thinking about that in his next two events and just go out and play golf, he’ll do it easily.

Of the 12 Irishmen with full tour cards right now, only three have yet to win a European tour event - rookies Gareth Maybin and Jonny Caldwell, and Murphy.

But that doesn’t mean that Murphy is not a highly successful professional. Think of the quality Irish players who have never made a cent and then look at Murphy and his €2.1 million in tour earnings over the past decade.

As Padraig Harrington has pointed out many times - making it to the European Tour is an achievement in itself. 

It’s all about comfort levels and while Harrington has been comfortable in the world’s top 10 for the past three years, he was not entirely comfortable as world No 3.

Nearly three years ago, Harrington was asked to assess Paul McGinley’s slump in form after a brilliant 2005 campaign that had catapulted his friend into the world’s top 20.

"I know when I got to 14th in the world, I was thinking: ‘Wow, I am overachieving’ and it took me a long time to get comfortable there,” Harrington said. "That’s what happens when you get to a new level. You have to go there, go back and go back again before you feel like you belong there."

Harrington certainly believes he can, and must, get better.

But what of Rory McIlroy, the golden boy of Irish and European golf these days.

In 53 European Tour starts since he turned professional just over two years ago, McIlroy has won once, lost twice in play-offs and finished in the top 10 another 15 times. Phenomenal.

But he’s not yet comfortable enough with the putter to become a multiple winner, as we have seen in the final rounds of three of Europe’s biggest events this year.

Had he broken 30 putts in the last day of the BMW Championship at Wentworth, the European Open at the London Club or last month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, McIlroy would now be a member of the world’s top 10.

Moving to the PGA Tour now would be moving outside his comfort zone and as we've seen this season, Irish golfers need time to find their happy place.