George Murray is a fairly down to earth kind of fella so there is no point tip-toeing around him.

When this correspondent tentatively suggested that his last couple of years on the professional scene had featured some highs and lows, the likeable Fifer responded swiftly with his own, straight-talking appraisal. "You put a nice spin on it; I would call the last two years complete s***," said Murray, as he reflected on a period of toil during which he dropped off the main tour and then struggled to make an impact in the second division.

A new year brings new hope, of course. It will also bring a new addition. Murray's wife, Carrie, is expecting the couple's first child in the spring. The due date is around about the same time as the Challenge Tour's lucrative NH Collection Open in Spain, a €600,000 dual-ranking event which could shape his season. It is a scheduling problem that Murray is relishing, though.

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"I think fatherhood will be the biggest challenge of my career; I can just about look after myself," he said with a smile. "The Spanish event is huge but I certainly don't want to miss the birth of my first born. Will that give me more drive to succeed? I don't need any more drive to be honest. The way I've played the last couple of years has given me enough of a kick up the backside."

Murray begins his Challenge Tour campaign next week in the Kenyan Open. This time last year he enjoyed one of his rare recent highs with a third-place finish in the very same tournament only for his season to hit the buffers not long afterwards when he injured his ribs on a train. "I was heading for a flight and I was hauling my golf bag along," he recalled.

"The train moved a bit, I didn't have my hands free to support myself and I fell against one of the flat tables. The season had got off to a bit of a flier but that really halted things. I just lost my way."

Having freshened things up in the close season by seeking the assistance of Alan McCloskey, the respected Bothwell Castle pro who works with his fellow Scots, Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson, Murray is hoping to turn the corner in 2014. His share of third in at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship of 2011 showed that when his game is on, the former Scottish Amateur can cut it at the top level.

Now, the challenge is to get back there again. "Looking back on performances like the Dunhill keep you going," said Murray. "I got a bit negative towards the end of last season but a new season always brings some positive thoughts."