Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
BANKS — Kevin Murphy gave himself an early birthday present.
The Rogue River junior, who turns 18 today, got off to a remarkable start in the Class 3A/2A/1A boys golf tournament — two eagles on his first three holes — and charged to his first state championship at Quail Valley Golf Course.
Murphy, who placed second in his freshman and sophomore years, was 7 under par on the front side for a 29, the first time he's broken 30 for nine holes, and finished with a 6-under 66.
He overtook first-day leaders Dylan Wu of St. Mary's and Montana Frame of Reedsport, who began the day at even par and with three-shot leads over Murphy, who opened with a 75 on Monday.
Wu finished second by himself with a 74 on Tuesday, leading the Crusaders to a successful defense of their state championship. Frame, who was co-runner-up with Murphy last year, was one shot back and in third.
Murphy's two-day total was 141 and Wu's was 146.
St. Mary's freshman Brandon Chun improved by 10 strokes over the first round to shoot 76, sophomore Tom Thorndike shot 80 and junior Will Street — who had four straight birdies on the second through fifth holes — shot 81.
The Crusaders' 311 score Tuesday put them at 631, well ahead of Catlin Gabel (657) and Westside Christian (661). Rogue River was fourth at 665.
Murphy got to 8 under with a birdie on the 10th hole and was flirting with uncharted territory. He shot a round of 64 during junior play last summer at Rogue Valley Country Club.
But a lost ball on the 12th hole led to double bogey, and he made a three-putt bogey on the 13th when he couldn't get a 5-foot comebacker to fall.
With afternoon wind adding to the degree of difficulty and a couple 10- to 15-foot birdie putts unwilling to fall, Murphy closed with four pars and a birdie (17th).
"It was a little tough to see that double (bogey)," said Murphy of the 12th hole.
With out of bounds markers to his left, he blocked his tee shot into tall grass on the right. He thought he'd be able to find it but couldn't, then hustled back and hit another tee shot, settling for a 6.
After a bogey on the next hole, he refocused.
"Although the putts weren't dropping from there on out, I felt like I gave it a good effort and was happy with how I finished," said Murphy.
How he started was something else.
Murphy eagled the par-4 first hole when he holed out from 95 yards. Hitting off a clump of grass in the rough, he gauged his shot perfectly, hitting it to the front of the green and watching it roll out the last 25 feet.
After narrowly missing a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 2, he eagled the par-5 third with an unconventional route. Murphy pounded a drive up the fifth fairway, giving himself a nice angle to the No. 3 green. His 5-iron left him only a 12-foot putt.
"I hit a great putt and knew it was in right away," he said.
Then he could have pinched himself.
"I don't even know what I was thinking," said Murphy. "It was just pretty crazy; is this really happening, like that but in a really good way. I was like, wow, keep it going. I tried to keep the mindset that I'm still back and still need to shoot really low.
"You never want to feel like you're being followed. Chasing is a lot better, and I felt like I was chasing at that point."
He made birdies at Holes 5, 6 and 7 to get to 7 under, then parred the final two holes of the nine.
The day before, he shot 41 on the front nine.
Murphy was laid up for months leading to the golf season when he broke an ankle in December.
He shot a couple 69s leading up to state, and his confidence continues to climb.
"It feels really good to get a round like this in and to know I can make a lot of putts," he said. "It feels like I can shoot really low now."
Wu, who normally feasts on par 5s, played them in 2 over in the second round. He made three birdies and five bogeys.
His putting was also off, said assistant coach Gene Allred, whose son, Ryan, is the head coach. Ryan stayed home because he and his wife are expecting their third child.
"Dylan is a great competitor," said Gene Allred. "He's a really focused and motivated player, and naturally, every time he tees it up, he wants to win. I'm sure he's a little disappointed, but he had a great season. That's (74) his highest score all season, so that's a tribute to how well he's played."
Chun overcame double and triple bogeys on the front nine.
"He really stepped up," said Allred.
Chun had the second-best placing among freshmen.
Thorndike, a sophomore, was 8 over after eight holes, due mostly to a quadruple bogey on No. 8. He played the last 10 holes in even par, with the help of an eagle-3 on the 17th.
"It was a really fun day," said Allred. "The guys did a great job."
Murphy's brother, David, also a junior, had a solid two days and placed seventh overall. He shot a 77 on Tuesday with three bogeys on each nine with a birdie thrown in on the back.
TEAM SCORES (Top 5) — St. Mary's 320-311—631, Catlin Gabel 337-320—657, Westside Christian 339-322—661, Rogue River 345-320—665, Bandon 346-339—685.
INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5) — 1, Kevin Murphy, Rogue River, 75-66—141; 2, Dylan Wu, St. Mary's, 72-74—146; 3, Montana Frame, Reedsport, 72-75—147; 4, (tie) Conor Oliver, Catlin Gabel, 78-76—154 and Greg Ong, Valley Catholic, 76-78—154.
ST. MARY'S (1st, 631) — 2, Dylan Wu 72-74—146; T11, Will Street 80-81—161; T14, Tom Thorndike 82-80—162; T14, Brandon Chun 86-76—162.
ROGUE RIVER (4th, 665) — 1, Kevin Murphy 75-66—141; 7, David Murphy 81-77—158; T42, Devin Milligan 91-92—183; 47, Shawn Donahue 98-88—186.
CLASS 6A — At Creswell, North Medford's Daniel Schuler placed 32nd after shooting a 10-over-par 82 during his second round at Emerald Valley Golf Club.
South Eugene's Sulman Raza carded a second-round 65 to match the lowest round by an individual champion in state tournament history and finished with a 9-under 135. Lake Oswego claimed the team title.
TEAM SCORES (Top 5) — Lake Oswego 307-296—603, South Eugene 316-302—618, Southridge 320-307—627, Sprague 315-318—633, West Linn 320-314—634.
INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5) — 1, Sulman Raza, South Eugene, 70-65—135; T2, Zach Foushee, West Linn, 71-76—147; T2, Cole Madey, Lake Oswego, 72-75—147; T4, Trey Pflug, Sunset, 74-74—148; T4, Marcus Potter, Tualatin, 78-70—148.
T32, Daniel Schuler, North Medford, 79-82—161.
CLASS 5A — At Creswell, Ashland sophomore Matt Hedges shot a 10-over-par 82 in the second and final round of the state championships to finish in a tie for ninth place with a two-day total of 14-over 158 at Emerald Valley Golf Club.
Nate Krause, a senior from Marist, and Conner Kumpula, a junior from West Albany, shared medalist honors at 148.
Hedges began the day in fifth place after a 4-over opening round but had bogeys on three of the first four holes to fall out of contention.