CHEYENNE – John Murdock IV was coming off a bad stretch of golf entering last summer’s Tyrrell Wyoming State Open.
The Laramie product struggled with his putter entering the annual tournament at Airport Golf Course. He flushed that from his system early, firing a 7-under-par 63 during the first round.
Murdock finished the 54-hole event at 15-under, and became the first amateur to win the title since Harold Swanzy won the inaugural event in 1956.
Murdock hopes history repeats itself this weekend.
The 63rd Wyoming Open starts today, and Murdock is again coming off a tough stretch.
He held the 36-hole lead at the Laramie Open, but tied for sixth after shooting a 3-over 74 in the final round at Glen “Red” Jacoby Golf Course.
The putter was his nemesis once again.
“I had a tough day where I really didn’t mess up in any one area, I just had a slow day on the greens,” Murdock said. “At Jacoby, if you kind of stall out a little bit, there are holes that are a little tougher. If you have momentum, they’re a little less tough.
“I just couldn’t get any momentum going. My whole group struggled on the greens, and couldn’t really make anything or get any momentum going. It was just one of those days.”
Murdock’s first attempt to return to normalcy came during the Monday qualifier for the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. Murdock shot a 5-under 67 and tied for ninth among players in the field at Riverdale Golf Club’s Dunes course. The top six players from Riverdale advanced to the TPC Colorado field.
Murdock wasn’t able to take home the $10,000 champions check last summer because he was an amateur. Veteran pro Geoff Keffer of Lakewood, Colorado, was the top pro at 14-under.
Murdock describes his Wyoming Open win as special.
“It helped me with the mental side of my game,” he said. “It showed me that if I play good golf, I can get it going with anybody.”
Murdock often attended the Wyoming Open as a spectator, and said playing in the tournament is always exciting.
“Never in a million years did I think I was going to win the tournament as an amateur,” he said. “Now, I’m starting to learn the difference between being a hungry college kid trying to win and being a professional trying to win some money.
“It’s different. I didn’t feel the same type of pressure last year. I saw it as an opportunity.”
Murdock admits the pressure of a paycheck got to him at the Laramie Open. Now, he is trying to recapture that mindset that helped him win the Wyoming Open last summer.
“I have to only worry about winning the tournament,” he said. “Thinking about money is just a tough way to go about it. My game feels good, and I just have go hole-by-hole and see what happens.”