There was an extra-special feeling around La Sella Golf Club’s 18th green at the conclusion of the first R&A Student Tour Series event of the 2023-24 season in Jesús Pobre, Spain.
Namely, Europe’s best student golfers gathered to help Elice Fredriksson of Sweden’s Halmstad University and Eoin Murphy of Ireland’s Maynooth University reach special milestones in their STS careers: both players earned their maiden wins.
The pair have steadfastly supported the series along with their respective teammates from Halmstad and Maynooth, enthusiastic supporters of the R&A initiative since its inception. Both players have featured on previous leaderboards without getting their hands on a trophy. That all changed over three hot and humid days on a tough course that staged this year’s €1 million (about $1.074 million) La Sella Open on the Ladies' European Tour.
Fredriksson fashioned a closing 68 after consecutive rounds of 75. She finished on 2-over-par 218 to pip St Andrews student Lucy Jamieson by two shots in the women’s tournament.
Murphy was a model of consistency over the three days, returning rounds of 71, 70 and 71 for a 4-under-par 212 tally. He also won by two strokes, with Halmstad’s Hugo Stark taking second place.
“Of course, you always want to win, but I’m just focussed on my process goals rather than on winning. I feel I’m a better player this year because I had some problems with my confidence and believing in myself. So, this win will do a lot for my confidence."
Both shared a stat no one else in the field matched: bogey-free rounds. Murphy recorded that feat in an opening 1-under 71, and Fredriksson didn’t drop a shot in her closing 68.
“It feels fantastic, great to get my first win,” Fredriksson said. “I can’t believe it.”
Fredriksson, who stands 1,040th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, had four top-10s last season, including second in the Grand Final at St Andrews.
“Of course, you always want to win, but I’m just focussed on my process goals rather than on winning,” she added. “I feel I’m a better player this year because I had some problems with my confidence and believing in myself. So, this win will do a lot for my confidence.
“I couldn’t see not making at least one bogey on this course because it’s very tricky, especially on the front nine, so it’s great that I didn’t make any.”
Jamieson put up a strong fight over the final day as she sought her third victory. She began with a two-shot lead over the field and played the front nine in level par. However, three bogeys in five holes from the 10th made the difference along with Fredriksson’s sterling play.
Murphy is in his final year at Maynooth. He will head into the workplace in April after finishing his master’s degree in business and management. He arrived in Spain intent on getting at least one win in the Student Tour Series after having previous chances, only to fall short.
“I’m delighted,” said the 23-year-old, who’s ranked 2,265th on the WAGR. “It’s nice to get the monkey off my back early. It was a solid week from the get-go. It’s great to play steady golf for three days, and it’s always nice when it comes together.”
“It’s just got better and better. Getting the chance to play courses like these is fantastic, and great for everyone’s development."
Over the summer, Murphy returned to his boyhood sport of hurling to try to get in shape for his final fling at the Student Tour Series. He arrived in Spain feeling leaner and stronger as a result, and it paid dividends.
“Being that bit fitter has to help, especially coming down the stretch on a sunny day like today when the temperature is in the high twenties (Celsius),” he said. “I might have struggled before.”
As far as his final season on the Student Tour Series goes, Murphy wants to enjoy his remaining time between now and the final event in St Andrews next April.
“The Student Tour Series is brilliant,” Murphy said. “It’s just got better and better. Getting the chance to play courses like these is fantastic, and great for everyone’s development. I’m sad in a way, but it’s time to move on. I will miss it because it’s been great craic to stay on site at these courses and enjoy times with my teammates. I’m going to make the most of this final ride.”
MEN’S RESULTS / WOMEN’S RESULTS
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