The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

June 15, 2014

Murphy takes Sunnehanna crown in playoff

JOHNSTOWN — Will Murphy finished his final round in the 61st Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions on Saturday afternoon and headed for the scorer’s tent.

The University of South Carolina golfer trailed leader Sam Burns by a stroke.

The next – and last – group to tee off on No. 18 included Burns, 2011 Sunnehanna Amateur champion Nathan Smith and defending champ Steven Ihm.

Murphy’s interest piqued after the 17-year-old Burns hit a shot that landed in a bunker on the right of the final hole.

“I signed my scorecard and looked around and saw he might be making a bogey so I prepared myself mentally for a playoff,” said Murphy, a Columbia, South Carolina native.

Burns bogeyed on No. 18. The Shreveport, Louisiana high school star and Murphy each finished the tournament at 6-under-par 274, forcing a three-hole playoff.

Murphy edged Burns in the playoff with a clinching par putt from about 7 feet on the third extra hole, which was played on the downhill, par-4 No. 7.

“It was probably a 7-foot, sneaky slider,” Murphy said. “But I just told myself to concentrate and trust yourself at this point. I was able to hole it.”

Murphy made par on the first playoff hole played on the par-4 No. 1. Burns bogeyed the hole.

Both golfers bogeyed the second playoff hole on No. 2.

“The playoff, I almost treat it like match play,” Murphy said. “I see him make bogey on 1, so I play conservative. I don’t need to try to make birdie. He bogeys 2, so I’m able to just bogey there and keep going.

“You don’t have to do anything crazy. I just kept the ball in front of me and outlasted him.”

The playoff setback didn’t diminish an outstanding tournament by Burns, who is a three-time Louisiana high school state champion heading into his senior year. He already is a Louisiana State recruit for 2015.

“Will’s a good guy and I couldn’t be happier for him,” Burns said. “It’s tough to lose but I can’t wait to be back next year. I’m kind of hurting right now, but overall it was a nice tournament.”

The playoff extended an already long day for the Sunnehanna field.

The rain-interrupted third round had to be concluded Saturday morning as only 11 groups finished on Friday.

After the third round, the once 89-player field was cut to 57.

“I finished up the last 12 pretty well and finished in 2-under,” Burns said of his third-round score of 68. “The second round (played on Saturday), I got out to a pretty good start. I made birdie on 11 and 15. It was tough on 18 but you’ve got to move on.

“I had a one-shot lead and made bogey,” he added. “I hit it in the left. I didn’t judge the wind correctly and I hit it in the right front bunker. The wind was a factor. It wasn’t awful but it definitely made a difference.”

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