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Murphy avoids school of hard Knox

Family comes first, but Kevin Murphy put that to the test in his opening match in the 87th Southern Oregon Golf Championships Thursday at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Murphy, the only player in history to three-peat in the men's regular division, found himself 2 down through 14 holes against Houston Knox — who is a teammate of Murphy's brother, David, on the Oregon Tech team.

David was caddying for Kevin as they played the outside course.

"After 12, it was, oh my gosh, I was getting nervous. I can't lose," said Kevin Murphy, who will be a senior on the Oregon State team and last won the SOGC in 2013. "David was like, 'You know, my teammate's gonna give me crap all year long if you lose to him.' So I had to do something. I did everything I could."

What he did was birdie the final four holes, including a 24-foot putt on No. 17 and a 15-footer on No. 18, to seal the win.

His brother might have been a tad conflicted, Kevin acknowledged, but, "I think he'd take family over his teammate," he said.

Murphy's comeback was a highlight as championship-flight match play began in the 400-strong event.

In other men's regular matches of note, defending champion Chris Polski downed Blake Bartlett, 4 and 3; 16-year-old medalist Craig Ronne defeated John Keyser, 6 and 4; four-time champion Mike Barry topped Scott Weiland, 6 and 5; and last year's runner-up, Ryan Schaefer, defeated Matt Eschenbacher, 3 and 2.

In men's junior-senior play, defending champion Bret Breeze made five birdies on the front nine and cruised to a 7-and-5 win over Todd Ostenson. In the same group, John Justin came from 4 down through eight holes for a 1-up win over Marty Morlan, medalist in 2013 and city champion the past two years.

In men's senior play, Kevin Klabunde, the defending champion who has won four of the division’s past seven titles, beat John Given, 3 and 2; and Mark Wilson, who won it in 2012 and '13, downed Billy Crenshaw on the 19th hole. Klabunde and Wilson will meet in a second-round match of heavyweights today.

In other senior matches, Glen Clark and Brad Bills, who each have multiple titles, triumphed, as did co-medalists Kim Cushing and Gary Loeb.

In men's super-senior play, last year's finalists, winner George Mack and runner-up Herman Holm, each won and will meet today, while Terry Anderson knocked off co-medalist Rick Young on the 19th hole. The other co-medalist, Dan Dixon, beat Al Radusky, 3 and 2.

In the women's division, medalist Daniele Giles and former champions Trina Jones, Kelly Loeb and Terry Levis all took care of business.

Murphy's rally against Knox was necessitated by a squirrelly driver at the outset. He hit his tee shot way left on the first hole, then out of bounds on Nos. 2 and 3. He also went OB on 12 and nearly hit a 4-iron OB off the tee on No. 10.

"It was a struggle, a major struggle," said Murphy, who led Oregon State in stroke average as a junior at 73.50. "I think what really helped me in the end was, I slowed my tempo down a ton. I felt a pause at the top to get the club out in front of me."

Murphy saw signs of life on No. 15 when Knox missed a 6-foot birdie putt that would have kept him 2 up with three to play.

Knox then hit his approach on No. 16 into a pond, and Murphy squared the match with a two-putt birdie, setting up the big finish.

Breeze, meanwhile, didn't have near the rough start Murphy did. Quite the contrary. He shot 31 on the front nine and was in cruise control.

"It kind of takes the pressure off a little bit," said Breeze.

He was 7 up through nine holes, with birdies at Nos. 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9. Ostenson chipped in on No. 10 to stem the tide, but halves on the next two holes and a conceded birdie for Breeze at 13 wrapped up the match.

"I haven't hit it that solidly, really, since last year's Southern Oregon," said Breeze.

Breeze's victory a year ago was his first in the SOGC. It took some weight off him.

"I think I have less pressure than ever because I finally won," he said. "Before, this was the only tournament I hadn't won. I'd won all these other tournaments, the city and club championships, but never the Southern Oregon. It's a hard tournament to win. You can have an off day and someone can light it up on you. ... You just never know. You can't take anybody for granted, that's for sure."

He certainly won't with Justin, who was in the same group Thursday.

Justin said he felt like an underdog to Morlan.

"Definitely," he said. "I've seen him play. He's won a ton of tournaments and I haven't."

After going 4 down, Justin won the ninth, halved the 10th and 11th, then won 12 through 14 to square the match.

He made birdie on 13 with a 4-foot putt, then scrambled to save par on No. 16 for a halve. After each bogeyed 17, it came down to the 18th.

Morlan ran his downhill putt by the hole en route to a three-putt. Justin, who punched out of the left treeline to 15 feet, two-putted for the win.

Match play continues through Monday, when championships in all divisions will be determined.

MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Chris Polski def. Blake Bartlett 4&3, Ethan DeVore def. Justin Wise 4&2, Michael Borton def. Taylor Klemp 1up, David Murphy def. Edward Pulpan 4&3, Reese Fisher def. Travis Brink 2&1, Ryan Hawkins def. Jackson Bartow 6&5, Justin Wiles def. Tyler Duntsch 1up, Joey Walker def. Cody Stover 7&5, Craig Ronne def. John Keyser 6&4, Ryan Schaefer def. Matt Eschenbacher 3&2, JC Riter def. Tom Leavens 4&3, Montana Frame def. Justin Azevedo 2&1, Mike Barry def. Scott Weiland 6&5, Robert Galli def. Jeff Barry 2up, Kevin Murphy def. Houston Knox 1up, Noah Brooks def. Mike Snowden 19th.

MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Ryan Suvoy def. Matt Stringer 1up, Ryan Kanter def. Sonny O’Grady 1up, Peyton Lindbloom def. Chris Norlander 3&2, Chase Schumacher def. David Mayer 19th, Mark Wilson def. Scott Cordeiro 1up, Erik Pedersen def. Matt Johnson 1up, Nick Malone def. Jason Graham 3&2, Charlie Moore def. Eric Engelbach 4&3.

MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT

Alec Williamson def. Charlie Walker 3&2, Dustin Wallace def. Charles Day 2up, Morgan Hawkins def. Collin Krueger 1up, Chris Hash def. Jason Rowan 4&2, Lance Fowler def. Josh Huffman 3&2, Brandt Cullen def. Kyle McKay 6&5, Brian Wilson def. Tim Johns 19th, Maxwell Lewis def. Justin Hanlin 1up.

MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT

Scott Mettler def. Jeremy Ross 3&2, Jerdson Gamble def. Brian Murphy 5&4, Dylan Schwarm def. Scott Sterton 2&1, Ian Norgan def. Josh Godfrey 2&1, Jay Christiansen def. Stephen Odell 3&2, Jason Hanlin def. Shawn Shumate 7&5, Jim Corbett def. Tanner Lawton 6&5, John Collondrez def. Doug Rodermund 4&2.

MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Bret Breeze def. Todd Ostenson 7&5, John Justid def. Marty Morlan 1up, Kevin Dixon def. Chris Warren 2&1, Mark McUne def. Tom Pepple 1up, Richard Owens def. Scott Entinger 5&4, Mike Walker def. Scott Loyd 3&1, David Culbertson def. Mark Hash 2&1, Mark Mullaney def. Jim Mansfield 2up, Brent Barr def. Erick Doolen 5&4, Todd Couch def. Brooks Gard 5&3, David Cuttrell def. Tim Arnsberg 19th, Dan Westbrook def. Eric Artner 7&6, Steve Taormino def. Tim Hornecker 1up, David Simms def. Bobby Foote 2&1, Brandon Crosier def. Eddie Bostwick 2up, Todd Dixon def. Eric Bottero 2&1.

MEN’S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Kevin Klabunde def. John Given 3&2, Mark Wilson def. Billy Crenshaw 19th, Glen Clark def. Kevin Croucher 2&1, Bob Hyer def. Brian Odell 3&2, Brad Bills def. Mark Weiss 5&4, Marshall Holman def. Pat Daggitt 6&5, Doug Ward def. Steven Wood 4&3, Joel Jessel def. Jeffery Blum 1up, Gary Loeb def. Bob Dwyer 19th, Jerry Eklund def. Douglas Hartley 3&2, Kenneth Stringer def. Dwayne McIntosh 1up, Bob Dickey def. Bill Foulon 3&2, Kim Cushing def. Rick McCabe 3&1, Robert Cox def. Paul Gulick 2up, Randy Smith def. Steve Watkins 5&4, Eric Austad def. Robert Falar 19th.

MEN’S SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Tony Franco def. John Buda 2up, Tim Trower def. Jim McCabe 1up, Evan McArthur def. Scott Saxon 2&1, John DeMario def. Jerry Johnson 4&3, Brian Adolph def. Robert Husel 1up, Dirk Johnson def. Ken VanDaam 19th, Gary Sterton def. Jeff Longtain 2up, Steve Miller def. Brian Snow 1up.

MEN’S SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Dave Allen bye, Terry Buntin def. William Milimuka 4&3, Dave Orr def. John Zupan 5&4, Norm Veronneau def. Bob Skinner 3&1, Brad Webster def. Ron Harvey 1up, Charlie Tissen def. Neill Smith 4&3, Wayne Stone def. Faraon Bailey 5&4, Scott Weaver def. Rich Mettler 2up.

MEN’S SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT

Bill Allen bye, Frank Lucas def. Bob Kaczor 2&1, Cory Crebbin def. Michael Confer 22nd, Jean David def. Scott Lubich 2up, Paul Schleinitz def. Craig Schumacher 5&4, Kevin Aguirre def. Ray Figueira 1up, Henry Burgoyne def. Dan Kosmatka 1up, John Root def. Gibb Mitchell 2up

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

George Mack def. Robert Galusha 1up, Herman Holm def. Michael Miller 2&1, Doug Olson def. Ken Weist 4&3, Ron Lewis def. Tom Hamlin 1up, Terry Anderson def. Rick Young 19th, Lang Bates def. Bob Harrell 19th, Dan Dixon def. Al Raduski 3&2, Greg Miller def. Thomas Tarlow 3&2.

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Ron Primasing def. Dave Mansfield 1up, Bruce McDonald def. Chuck Kenney 2&1, Michael Armitage def. Dodd Samuel 1up, Dan Leary def. Scott Swendiman 1up, Ross Cooley def. Conrad Caprez 7&6, Arn Withol def. Robert Adler 2&1, Alex Bellen def. Jim Hatton 2&1, Scott Mayfield def. John Kruesi 1up.

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT

Jim Garrison def. James Quincy 1up, Steve Warrington def. Dick Entinger 1up, Brian Schmitz def. Patrick O’Brian 1up, Ron Dixon def. Tom Watson 1up, bob Doolen def. James LeRoy 2up, Richard Sorenson def. John Presenti 1up, Ken Bailey def. Dwight Samuel 1up, Gilbert Roque def. Mike Arant 1up.

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT

Jim Hauck def. Rodger Campuzano 1up, Garth Harrington def. Sid DeBoer 5&4, Tom Michaels def. Emmett Mahle 1up, Edward Knight def. Dave Rasmussen 4&3, Wendell Towe def. Phil Gossner 1up, Raymond Smith def. Gordon Carrigan 3&2, George Parsons def. Tom Barry 5&4, Bob Glover def. Donald Young 2up.

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Daniele Giles def. Tracie Armitage 6&5, Lindsey Crosier def. Jennifer Ausland 4&3, Trina Jones def. Julia Tissen 3&2, Christina Phelps def. Annette VanDaam 1up, Terry Levis def. Anique Cummings 2&1, Kelly Loeb def. Melinda Heiner 6&5, Aubrie Street def. Laura Pinkham 5&4, Laura Rommes def. Calista Crenshaw 19th.

WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Leslie Gainey def. Heather Wise 2&1, Ashley Snowden def. Marnie BInney 1up, Jane Brooks def. Kierra Cano 3&2, LeeAnn Loftin def. Tonia Waldron 1up, Barbara Stormo def. Toni Doolen 19th, Toni Watkins def. Michele Rostron 20th, Mindy Cuttrell def. Bridgette Griffin 1up, Genna Mettler def. Vickie Noel 5&4.

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

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