local golf notes

Murphy blisters summer Am courses

bspear@thestate.comJune 22, 2014 

Will Murphy won the Azalea Amateur in March, but little did he know that the triumph at the Country Club of Charleston would be a precursor of his golf year.

He closed his junior season at the University of South Carolina with a fifth-place finish in the SEC championship, and shared 15th in the NCAA national tournament.

The latter earned him All-America honors and helped the Gamecocks take ninth, the program’s second-best team finish.

There’s more: the excellence increased against even more formidable competition. Murphy began his summer season with a tie for sixth in the Palmetto Amateur, and trumped that a week ago by winning the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur in Pennsylvania.

He added another impressive finish Saturday, sharing 10th place in the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island.

“The best stretch of golf in my career,” Murphy said. “I’m excited.”

He should be; his outstanding streak has come against the cream of college players plus, in the summer tournaments, some of the nation’s best career amateurs.

The performances have sent his stock soaring in rankings based on finishes in designated tournaments to 14th in Golfweek’s world-wide amateur ratings and to seventh among U.S. amateurs.

A Columbia native who played on A.C. Flora’s powerhouses, Murphy called his fall season at Carolina disappointing, but said he found his groove in the mid-March Seahawk Invitational.

He had experienced outstanding moments on the course before. He advance to the round of 32 in the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, won the 2010 Florence Junior, and last summer tied for second in the South Carolina Amateur. But there has never been a streak like this.

“It’s been lights out since (the Seahawk Invitational),” he said “Everything clicked. I’m mentally prepared for a positive outcome. I’m keeping my emotions in check, and I’m fighting through adversity.”

Murphy credits his improvement on his physical game to working with former USC star Fred Wadsworth, and the mental side with Greenville sports psychologist Milt Lowder. Lowder also consults Clemson athletes.

“I credit them a lot,” he said. “They’ve made a big difference. They’ve helped me keep things in perspective.”

Murphy can’t remember “when I didn’t have a club in my hands.”

Murphy entered his first tournament at age 8 and his love for the game continues to grow. He will play in all the “big” amateur events this summer. Perhaps the most important event will be U.S. Amateur qualifying in early July.

“It’s fun to play like this,” he said. “I just want to keep it going.”

Chip shotsTwo USC players – senior Samantha Swinehart and junior Justin Dreher – and Clemson freshman Ashlan Ramsey earned All-America honor from Golfweek. Ramsey, who has announced that she would turn professional, was named to the third team, and the USC pair received honorable mention recognition. Earlier, Swinehart and Dreher were named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s All-America team. ...

Dawn Woodard (Greer) won her fifth straight WSCGA match-play title, defeating Samantha Buchanan 2 and 1 in the final at Woodside Plantation in Aiken. ...

Caleb Proveaux (Lexixngton), Keenan Huskey (Greenville), Christian Salzer (Sumter) and Cole Patterson (Greenville) advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur in qualifying at Greenville CC’s Riverside Course. ...

Huskey, who will play for USC in the fall, was named to the second team on USA Today’s All-USA boys squads. ...

Mark Moody combined with 14-year-old son Levi for nine birdies at Greenville CC’s Chanticleer Course to win the 47th SCGA Father-Son championship. ...

At Westmont GC in Summerville, Rich Bundschuh (Charleston) and Julian Keur (Summerville) led 10 qualifers for next month’s Carolina Amateur. ...

Twenty berths in the PGA Championship will be at stake in the PGA of America’s Professional National Championship that begins Sunday in Myrtle Beach. A field of 312 club professionals will compete over the Dunes Golf and Beach Club and Grande Dunes Resort courses. Admission is free with parking available at the Grande Dunes Resort site.

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