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Bernie Fraser chips onto the 18th green Tuesday at Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Murphy's 69 leads the way in SOGC qualifying

Kevin Murphy didn't get off to as good of a start as he did last year in the Southern Oregon Golf Championships.

Still, the Rogue River teenager managed to overcome only an eagle on the first hole and took the early lead for medalist honors in the men's regular division Tuesday at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Last year, Murphy double-eagled the first hole and was 4 under par after two holes en route to a 68, which, after a playoff, was good for medalist honors.

This time, Murphy, 17, went eagle-birdie at the start and produced a 3-under-par 69, one of only two subpar scores as local men played their qualifying rounds.

Women and out-of-town men qualify today, so two straight medalist crowns for Murphy isn't in the books yet.

"It kind of felt weird," said Murphy. "Three-under (after two holes) was nice, but I didn't feel overly special. But it really was pretty nice."

Defending men's regular champion Mike Barry didn't have to qualify and is seeded No. 1. The closest player to Murphy was J.T. Compher, who shot 74 despite two double bogeys. Doug Olson and Scott Wise each shot 75s.

In other divisions, Dan Westbrook's 71 was the other under-par score and topped the men's junior-senior, two shots better than Kevin Dixon.

Terry Anderson and Marshall Holman fired 75s to lead the men's senior, and Steve Wood had a 76.

In the men's super seniors, Dan Dixon shot a 73 and Bob Harrell a 74.

After today's round of qualifying, match play begins Thursday and continues through Monday.

Despite his sizzling start, Murphy had an inkling he would have to scramble on this day.

"I didn't hit the ball very good, for one thing," he said. "I made some good putts throughout the day, but other than that, I was just kind of unsure where the ball was going to go, and my chipping wasn't very good."

A three-hole stretch was indicative: On No. 6, he drove it to the center of the green on the 328-yard par 4 and made birdie; on No. 7, his drive was in the trees left, but he salvaged par; on No. 8, his drive was almost out of bounds right, but he salvaged par.

"Basically, that's the way it went all day," said Murphy. "There were a couple of holes I played pretty good, but it's funny how even though I played so bad, I was still able to score pretty well."

The Rogue Course is not foreign to him. He shot his career-low round of 64 on it in a junior tournament in July.

Murphy's eagle on No. 1 was set up by a good drive and a 230-yard 4-iron that was ushered to the green's midsection by a slight tail wind. He then dropped a 25-foot putt.

"It's always nice to make a putt on the first hole," he said.

In addition to No. 2 and No. 6 — he was apologetic that his tee shot hit into people on the green — his other birdie was the par-3 11th.

A year ago and without much match-play experience, Murphy was ousted in his second match.

This year, he's played 10 matches in tournaments and won nine of the them.

"It'd be nice to keep up that stat," he said.

The start to Dan Dixon's round was quite the opposite of Murphy's.

Dixon, who has twice been a medalist but has yet to win an SOGC championship in five finals appearances — once in junior-senior and four times in seniors — made double bogeys on his first two holes.

On No. 1, he hit into the trees, chipped out, hooked a shot around another tree, then finally found the green, where he three-putted the par 5.

"I don't remember the last time I took double bogey on that hole," he said.

No. 2 wasn't much better. More trees, another three-putt.

But when he sank a 25-foot putt on the third hole for birdie, his round turned and he played the final 16 holes in 3 under.

"It was a very interesting round," said Dixon. "After those first two holes, I had to have a talk with myself. The qualifying round, to me, is always the hardest round of golf you play all year because you just want to shoot a really good round to make sure you get in the championship flight."

Westbrook was coming off his best finish in the RVCC club championships, placing third in the men's division, and was confident entering the SOGC.

He tied for medalist honors last year, then advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Ken Stringer.

Westbrook was 3 under through six holes, with a birdie at No. 1, an approach to within inches for another birdie at No. 3 and a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 6.

"I just kind of bumped along through the nine holes, then started getting a little nervous, like we all do," he said.

Westbrook's best round at RVCC was a 69, and when it's going well, it's because his tee shots are finding fairways.

"Taking a nice full swing and just letting everything go," he said. "It's not automatic because nothing's automatic, and we all get in trouble. You just learn how to deal with trouble when you get into it."

He saved a couple pars coming in with 4-foot putts but couldn't get a 3-foot birdie putt to fall at the 18th.

Southern Oregon Golf Championships

First-Day Qualifying

MEN

REGULAR — Kevin Murphy 69, J.T. Compher 74, Doug Olson 75, Scott Wise 75, Tommy Smith 76, Jimmy White 76, Will Street 77, Derek Zwagerman 77, Travis Brink 79, Daniel Schuler 79, Mark Wilson 79, Todd Ostenson 79, Adam Browne 79, Neil Smith 79, Kelly Owen 80, Jon Robinson 80, Brian Garrison 80, Jerry Eklund 80, Steve Bernard 81, Jake Grondin 81, Jeffrey Morgan 81, Jeff Barry 81, Justin Wise 82, Nick Daggitt 82, Thomas Avalon 82, Jerome Gilbert 83, Orette Facey 83, Rick Jackson 83, Craig Galpern 84, Scott Weiland 84, Nick Nieto 84, Taylor Klemp 84, Brandon Crosier 85, Joey Walker 85, Bryan Brutke 85.

Scott Hansen 86, Eric Ford 86, Sean McGlinn 87, Nick Malone 88, Jesse Taylor 88, Philip Heiner 89, Darrell Flora Jr. 89, Chase Schumacher 89, Ryan Suvoy 90, Brian Carr 90, Rick Hutchins 90, Joe Arnesen 91, Bobby Foote 91, Chris Dufour 91, Steve Ferreira 91, Justin Johnson 92, Ed Lindbloom 93, Ryan Kantor 93, Matt Hansen 93, Ben Humphrey 94, Greg Jacobs 94, Michael Goldman 94, Jordan Anderson 95, Mike Running 100, Scott Anderson 100, Robert Lindbloom 102, Scott Sherbourne 107.

JUNIOR-SENIOR — Dan Westbrook 71, Kevin Dixon 73, Bret Breeze 75, Kevin Wu 76, Norm Veronneau 77, Craig Knips 78, John Quinones 78, Rob Neff 78, Paul Johnson 78, David Culbertson 78, Brad Bills 79, Terry Smith 79, Bret Deforest 80, Todd Dixon 81, Richard Owens Jr. 81, Derek Davis 81, Tom Pepple 82, Dave Judd 83, Steve Lovich 84, Marty Morlan 84, Pat Moore 84, Robert Husel 85, Todd Neilson 86, Michael Bauer 86, Mark Weiss 86, Brian Mosier 86, Tom Mayer 86, Kevin Jones 86, Hank Munn 86, Brian Adolph 86.

Rich Warner 88, Eric Artner 88, Riley Loftin 89, Chris Campbell 89, Gary Bates 90, Joe Mahar 90, Eddie Bostwick 90, Tony Nieto 91, Dennis Richards 92, Scott Reed 93, John Walker 93, Ron Harvey 94, David Nelson 94, Jack Lewis 99, Rick Dyer 99, Bill Powell 100, Don Boucher 100, Robert Rosas 102, Matt McMlillin 104, Joe Salamone 106, Jeffrey Adamson 114.

SENIOR — Terry Anderson 75, Marshall Holman 75, Steven Wood 76, Chris Littleton 80, Gary Gage 80, Glen Clark 81, Bob Cox 81, Howard Hunt 81, Bill Shevlin 82, Steve Watkins 83, Dennis Slattery 83, Chuck Bork 83, John Brittain 83, Carl Harsch 84, John Lawton 85, Ken Bailey 86, Wayne Van Wey 86, John Kruesi 87, Douglas Burwell 87, John Johnson 87, Douglas Hartley 88, Bill Drewien 88, Bill Bednar 88, Jim Botsford 88, Bob Crews 88.

Terry Buntin 89, Lee Fortier 89, Jim Kauffman 89, Jeffrey Blum 89, Curt Bennett 89, Craig Batesole 90, John Jensen 90, Gary Glass 91, Brian Schmitz 92, Don Pinkham 92, Scott Weaver 93, Thad Hodgdon 95, Michael Armitage 96, Wayne Tait 96, Dan Fowler 96, John Zupon 96, Ron Moore 97, Mark Pagon 97, Alan DeBoer 98, Mel Friend 99, Darrell Flora Sr. 99, John Pierce 100, Mike Confer 101, Dave Smith 101, Daniel Kosmatka 103, Scott Lubich 104, Ben Goldman 105.

SUPER SENIOR — Dan Dixon 73, Bob Harrell 74, Dick Brekke 77, Robert Maentz 78, Gary Kloude 78, John Dunkin 81, Jim Cockrum 82, Bill Heslington 83, Tom Hamlin 83, Steve Warrington 83, Ron Primasing 85, Dennis Ramsden 85, Jim Hatton 86, Bruce Van Zee 87, Larry Schmaltz 88, Jim Quincy 89, Ron Dixon 89, Richard Stark 90, Tom Barry 92, Bob Barber 93, David Rasmussen 94, Bob Hutchins 95, Phil Cash 95, Garth Harrington 96, Raymond Smith 96, C. Jan Garner 96, Bernie Fraser 96, John Anhorn 97, Bob Reed 98, Peter Puligan 98, Gary Bendickson 99, Robert Rickabaugh 99, Larry McLaughlin 100, Arn Wihtol 101, Dick Kari 101, Norman Renner 101, Phil Gossner 108.

WOMEN

REGULAR — Melinda Heiner 93, Lee Ann Lofton 99.

SENIOR — Janet Stark 93, Cindy Fortier 94.

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

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