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  • Murphy's adventure is just beginning

  • Kevin Murphy enjoyed a big adventure this week when the Rogue River golfer played in the Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego.
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  • Kevin Murphy enjoyed a big adventure this week when the Rogue River golfer played in the Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego.
    But it's just a start.
    Murphy, 17, has a commanding lead in the Oregon Junior Golf performance points list. Select tournaments are worth points, and leaders in the boys and girls divisions are chosen for prestigious team competitions.
    Murphy has already been chosen for the Junior Americas Cup later this month at Hiwan Golf Club near Denver. And he's guaranteed a spot on the Hogan Cup team that won't be announced until Aug. 2, after the Portland City Championships.
    With only two tournaments remaining — the Klamath Basin and Portland City — Murphy has scored 280 points. His big haul came in the last 2 1/2 weeks, when he scored 200 of his points in the Oregon Junior Amateur and the Oregon Junior Stroke Play.
    In the Amateur, a match-play event, he was medalist in the qualifying round of the Junior Division, then finished second in the tournament at Reames Country Club in Klamath Falls.
    In the championship match, his opponent, Alistair Docherty, birdied the 18th hole to even the match, then birdied the 19th hole to win it. Murphy went bogey, par on the two holes, nearly jarring a putt for birdie on the playoff hole.
    In the Stroke Play at the OGA Golf Course in Woodburn, he placed fourth, shooting even par for three days. He had 12 birdies but also had a double bogey in each round.
    "That kind of hurt me quite a bit," he said, "but I still came through and had some good rounds."
    In the points standings, Murphy is well ahead of the second-place Docherty (242.5). Nick Huff, who won the stroke play, has 240, and Sulman Raza, the first-day co-leader in the AJGA Junior at Centennial Golf Club this week, has 237.5.
    The top four made the Junior America's Cup team that will represent Oregon against 16 other associations from the western U.S, western Canada and Mexico July 27-29 in Colorado.
    "I think it will be one of the most fun things I do this year," said Murphy. "It's a team event, so I'll be able to play with really good friends I'm always competing against. Now we'll be able to work together and play together and represent Oregon."
    Three of four scores will be used in the 54-hole team competition, and there's also individual competition.
    The tournament has been around since 1959.
    Murphy's goal was just to make the team. To make it as the No. 1 choice?
    "Pretty neat," he said.
    The Hogan Cup takes the top eight players for A and B teams from Oregon. It'll be played Aug. 13-14 at Riverside Country Club in Portland.
    Medford's Dylan Wu is 10th on the points list with 137.5 points, but one of the kids ahead of him has turned 18 and isn't eligible for the team. Wu is playing in the Portland City and would need to gain one spot to make the Hogan Cup.
    A tournament close to home, the Southern Oregon Junior, will be at Rogue Valley Country Club Monday and Tuesday. It's not a team points event, but it should be, seeing as it's a two-day event. The Oregon Golf Association is interested in creating more points tournaments, and this one is a prime candidate.
    u
    DAN TAYLOR HAS A lucky shirt that might already be used up.
    "Last weekend I went out," said the 57-year-old Medford golfer, "and I said, 'OK, I'm wearing the same shirt, my double-eagle shirt. It didn't work, though. There's probably only one per shirt. I probably have to buy a new one."
    Perhaps, but few people can say they've owned two double-eagle shirts.
    Taylor, who carried a plus handicap when he kept one, recorded his second albatross in four months on June 18 at Stone Ridge Golf Club. He holed out his second shot on the par-5 third hole from the right side of the fairway, 213 yards out.
    His other one came in March on the par-5 18th from a similar distance.
    Double eagles are no easy feat. Their degree of difficulty is far greater than holes-in-one.
    The odds of an average golfer making an ace on a given hole are about 13,000-to-one, according to an online resource. Double eagles are about one million-to-one.
    There are approximately 40,000 aces a year in the U.S., compared to a couple hundred double eagles.
    "You don't expect it," said Taylor, whose wife, Kristie, was there for both, and whose son, D.J., has one of his own and witnessed the second one. "You're always wanting 1's and 2's, but when they come, you're kind of flabbergasted."
    A month ago, Taylor set up for a "nice little fade" over a pond up the left side of No. 3. The ball did as it was supposed to, hit on the green, rolled up and disappeared. Taylor thought it was a tad right of the hole and long, but his son said it went in.
    "I was pretty shocked," said Taylor.
    His first one in 27 years of play came at No. 18, which also required a shot over a hazard. A creek runs in front of the green.
    Taylor saw the ball hop once, then lost it. He figured it hit short of the front pin placement in the rough and stopped.
    "We got up there and it was pretty exciting," he said.
    That one was worth photos and a phone call to their son to notify him, "I finally caught up with him."
    Now, dad has zoomed by.
    "That's a lot of luck," said Taylor. "You've got to get the ball airborne, but the rest is up to the golf gods."
    u
    STEPHANIE JOHNS HASN'T played a round of golf in about seven months, and it's been a little more than a year since she led Portland State to the Big Sky Conference championship in her senior season.
    But the former Ashland High standout remains close to the game and hopes to return to the Rogue Valley for the area's two biggest tournaments: the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championship and the Southern Oregon Golf Championships.
    Johns won both events in 2009 — it was her third stroke-play, or city, title — but didn't enter last summer.
    She's now in Huntington Beach, Calif., where she moved in March in search of employment opportunities.
    She has a couple part-time jobs, one of them setting up "concept" shops at golf tournaments for partners TaylorMade, adidas and Ashworth. She worked in apparel and merchandising at adidas headquarters in Portland prior to moving.
    Rather than give out goodie bags as tee prizes, some tournaments set up little shops and give tournament-goers gift certificates to use on discounted items.
    "They get to spend it how they want," said Johns, who graduated from PSU with a degree in business management and leadership. "They actually get stuff they may want or need."
    She sees some pretty nice digs, too. She ran a shop at Los Angeles Country Club earlier this week, and before that was at Wilshire Country Club.
    "It's been awesome, I love it," said Johns. "You get to go to some big-name courses, and it's neat to meet the head pros and some of the guys that work there. They'll let me come and play the courses."
    She was to play her first round in months on Friday at Palos Verdes Golf Club. She was uncertain what shape her game would be in.
    "That's a good question," she said. "I've gone to the range a few times and it wasn't too bad."
    Whether she brings it home for the summer-ending tourneys depends on how flexible her schedule remains.
    "I really am trying to make it back up," she said. "That would be ideal."
    Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com
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