Mark Murphy took advantage of one of the prizes he claimed with his Big Break win by putting on a fine performance last week’s Hassan Trophy.
But while the Waterville player was desperate to clinch another sponsor’s invitation for this week’s Sicilian Open, it’s Killkenny’s Gary Murphy who comes out of retirement to tee it up at Ventura Golf and Spa Resort.
Murphy, who turns 40 in October, announced he was quitting tournament golf at the end of last year.
“It was fun and now its done,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Thanks for all the support over the years but I have decided to retire gracefully from the tournament golf. Sixteen years of ups and downs came to a grinding halt so with a heavy heart and some might say head too the show has come to an end.”
Murphy has since gone on to work outside golf, filming The Cut Line for Setanta - a series of TV interviews with European Tour players such as Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Damien McGrane.
It was therefore a surprise to see his name amongst the 11 sponsor’s invitations for Sicily, especially considering the fact that it was Mark Murphy who had pleaded for another chance to show his stuff in Morocco last week.
Before slipping to 52nd with a closing 76, the Kerryman said: “I’d love to play in Italy next week. From what I hear, there are a lot of openings over there. If anyone is listening I’d love a sponsor’s invite. I’ll got staight over there and do anything they need.”
No-one, it appears, was listening and it’s Killenny’s Gary who gets the nod alongside the likes of John Daly, Costantino Rocca, Barry Lane, Paul Broadhurst, Mathias Gronberg and two-time European Tour winner Banden Grace.
Clarifying that it was in fact Gary Murphy and not Mark Murphy who was invited to Sicily, a spokesman for the European Tour wrote: “He [Gary Murphy] may have retired but he still asked to be considered for invites for European Tour events. If a player has retired it does not mean they cannot be invited to a tournament.”
Of course, Mark Murphy has enjoyed several European Tour invitations in the past and will tee it up in this summer’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush as part of his prize for winning last year’s Big Break Ireland reality TV series.
And so Gary Murphy is one of six Irish players in action in Sicily, where Matteo Manassero is the headline act having failed to qualify for next week’s Masters Tournament.
Paul McGinley returns to the fray after jet-lag and illness forced him to withdraw in Morocco with Gareth Maybin, Peter Lawrie, Shane Lowry and Simon Thornton completing the list.