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Three’s a charm

Kevin Murphy is nothing if not consistent.

The Rogue River golfer won his third straight title in the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships Sunday at Centennial Golf Club.

And for the third consecutive year, he shot a two-day total of 9-under-par 135 in the men’s championship division.

Murphy, who is Oregon State’s top player as he readies for his senior year, pieced together a workmanlike final round of 68, making four birdies and nothing worse than par.

“It was good,” said Murphy. “It was really cool to come out here and play well because I’ve been working a lot with (instructor) Ed (Fisher) and working on my short game and wedges. It’s nice to come out and see it work, and this week it definitely worked.”

Adding symmetry to the round was the presence of his teacher’s son, Reese Fisher, in the final group with Murphy and Klamath Falls’ Craig Ronne.

While no one mounted a charge to threaten Murphy, Fisher — who won the Class 6A state title as a South Medford junior this past spring — birdied three of his final five holes to take second place with a 70 and a 140 total.

His final birdie, on No. 18, was a 40-foot bomb from the back of the green, giving him a two-shot edge over third-place finishers Tyler Swinton and Mike Barry. Ronne, who will be a junior at Klamath Union High and has committed to the University of Oregon, was another stroke back at 143.

“My play was not very pretty on the front nine,” said Fisher of his 37 going out, “so I’m happy I could pull it out and get second.”

In other divisions, Blake Bartlett won the men’s open with a 143, Marty Morlan repeated as the men’s junior-senior champion with a 147, John Kandaris claimed the men’s senior with a 143, Jon Paauwe defended his title in the men’s super senior with a 148, and Kelly Loeb captured the women’s championship with a 151.

Loeb followed an opening round of 80 with a sizzling 1-under 71 on Sunday.

Murphy served notice he’s in prime shape for the 87th Southern Oregon Golf Championships, which begin with qualifying rounds Tuesday at Rogue Valley Country Club.

He’s the only men’s regular division player to have won three straight titles, the last coming in 2013, and he’s vying to become only the fourth player to win at least four championships.

“I feel really good about my game,” said Murphy, who opened a three-shot lead with a 67 in the first round Saturday in the city tournament, as the RVSPC is known. “I feel like I’ve tightened things up a lot with my wedges and short game and just not having the big misses that I’ve had through college golf the last couple years. And I’m even more excited about college golf.”

Murphy’s short game was on display out of the gate. On the par-5 second hole, he lofted his second shot from a greenside sand trap that clipped the pin and left a 3-footer for his first birdie.

“I thought it was going to go in when it hit it,” he said.

He’s putted well of late and did so on No. 6, making an 18-foot birdie putt. He added a tap-in birdie on the short par-4 13th and a 4-footer on the par-5 16th.

On the latter, his second shot was a nuked 2-iron downwind from 272 yards that wound up 20 feet off the back of the green.

“There’s a few firm spots out there and it caught one of those,” he said.

Murphy admitted to getting frustrated between the eighth and 12th holes because he squandered birdie opportunities.

One of his best up-and-downs, however, was for par on the 12th after he short-sided himself with a fairway bunker shot that went long and left. He only had 15 feet of green to work with and it sloped away, but his chip into the wind landed whisper-soft and trickled to the hole.

“That was to keep the round bogey-free,” he said. “Bogey-free rounds don’t come around that often, so it’s always kind of in your mind.”

And it was another indication of just how consistent his game is.

Men's Championship

Kevin Murphy 135, Reese Fisher 140, Tyler Swinton 142, Mike Barry 142, Craig Ronne 143, Ryan Whittaker 144.

Men's Open

Gross: Blake Bartlett, 143, Nick Daggitt 144, Jay Miller 151.

Net: Michael Forney 132, Alex Jacobberger 135, Robert Hannaford 138.

Men's Junior-Senior

Gross: Marty Morlan 147, Kelly Rasmussen 148, Brad Bills 153.

Net: Jay Klemp 129, DL Richardson 135, Brandon Crosier 142.

Men's Senior

Gross: John Kandaris 143, Gary Loeb 146, Kevin Klabunde 147, Jim Hoffman 151, Bryan Schlafke 152.

Net: Jerry Olson 130, Paul Reynolds 137, Marshall Holman 138, Robert Holland 139, Ken Stringer 139.

Men's Super Senior

Gross: Jon Paauwe 148, Chuck Grytness 151, Duane Nelson 151, Pat Daggitt 153, Dick Brekke 158.

Net: Norm Hall 131, Wayne Tait 131, Steve Josephson 131, Jim Hatton 132, Denny Sweet 139.

Women's

Gross: Kelly Loeb 151, Christina Phelps 156, Tracie Armitage 166.

Net: Sandy Day 137, Julia Tissen 142, Marnie Binney 142.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com

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Reese Fisher sinks a birdie on the 14th green during the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships on Sunday.
Loeb