Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Kevin Murphy turned what could have been a relatively dour day into one worth celebrating last week.
The Rogue River teenager lost his second match in the Oregon Amateur at Tualatin Country Club last Thursday. But on his way home, he stopped by Corvallis and verbally accepted a scholarship offer to play golf for Oregon State.
Truth be told, the easy-going Murphy wasn't crestfallen over his 4-and-2 defeat at the hands of Brent Pollock of Eugene.
"I played well and he was, like, 6 under," said Murphy. "What're you gonna do?"
Murphy was very pleased, however, to cast his lot with head coach Jon Reehoorn and the Beavers.
"I just felt like it was the best fit for me," said Murphy, 18, who, as a junior, won the Class 3A/2A/1A state championship in May after having placed second the previous two years. "I like the Corvallis area and really like Jon Reehoorn, the coach, and how he runs the team."
Murphy's sister, JoAnn, plans to enroll at OSU this year. While that's a pleasant piece of the puzzle, he said, it didn't have significant bearing on his decision. He has no other family ties to the school.
Murphy can sign a national letter of intent during the fall signing period, which begins Nov. 14. NCAA restrictions prevent Reehoorn from commenting on Murphy other than to confirm the school is recruiting him.
Murphy's decision came down to Oregon State and Oregon. He made an official visit to Arizona State and was actively pursued by about 10 schools, he said.
"I kind of knew I wanted to stay in Oregon and it was going to be between Oregon State and Oregon," said Murphy, who put the brakes on advances by other schools early in the process. "I kind of let them know this is what I was aiming toward. I didn't really want to get into it a lot. I really didn't want to have to waste a lot of time or effort with it."
It would have been hard to fault him selecting either Oregon school.
Oregon made a bigger splash in 2011-12, advancing to the NCAA semifinals before narrowly losing to top-ranked Texas. The Ducks earlier placed second in their regional and second in the Pac-12 tournament, and their coach, Casey Martin, earned national attention when he qualified for the U.S. Open.
The Beavers, meanwhile, came within four strokes of qualifying for the NCAAs, tying for seventh in their regional. It was OSU's sixth straight regional trip.
Oregon State placed fifth in the Pac-12 tournament and captured two team titles during the season.
Four of the top five Beaver players return from last year, including Nick Sherwood, who, like Martin, played in the U.S. Open.
"I think they'll be pretty good," Murphy said of OSU. Noting that Oregon will lose its top three players, he added, "I think Oregon State and Oregon will be really competitive, and Oregon State might even be better."
Of course, Murphy won't join the team until the fall of 2013, and the Beavers will be much younger then.
In addition to Sherwood, who will be a senior, classmate Nick Chianello won the Oregon Amateur and another senior, Matt Rawitzer, had the low round at regionals.
"There's a lot of good stuff happening in the program," said Reehoorn.
Among the Beaver recruits this year is Brett Johnson, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., but plays Oregon junior golf. He was second in the Oregon Junior Stroke Play Championships and third in the Peter Jacobson Junior Challenge, in each case finishing just ahead of Murphy.
Another incoming freshman, Tyler Carlson, won his state title by seven shots.
Murphy turned heads with a banner summer last year, when he won numerous junior titles, competed in high-powered national events and represented Oregon in a couple of multi-state competitions. He capped the season by becoming the youngest winner in the men's regular division of Southern Oregon Golf Championships.
A broken ankle last winter interrupted his play, but he recovered in time for the high school season and finished strong.
Now he wants to maintain the progress as he prepares for major college play.
"I've got to just keep working on the mental game and short game a lot," he said. "I think that's the biggest way I can improve. I still have quite a bit of time. It's nice, but I almost want to get there sooner."
Among the tournaments on his agenda are the American Junior Golf Association event at Centennial Golf Club the week of July 16 and the Southern Oregon, where he'll attempt to defend his title.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com