Cheney Free Press -

Murphy hangs on for Lilac City Invite victory

First-time winner survives rugged finish to claim title

 

Paul Delaney

Vinnie Murphy III shows off the Joe Durgan trophy he will have his name engraved on following his victory last Sunday in the Lilac City Invitational golf tournament at The Fairways.

Staff ReporterPuyallup's Vinnie Murphy III decided at the last minute to enter the Lilac City Invitational.

Turns out it was the right choice for the 23-year-old as he survived a brutal final hole and held on for a one-stroke victory over Sammamish's Li Wang and Shane Prante July 8 at The Fairways Golf Course on the West Plains.

Murphy, a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. used a 4-under 68, a four-day total of 274 to win $10,000. Prante equaled Murphy's final found 68 while Wang mirrored Saturday's 67 for their tournament total of 275. The two each earned $3,500.

Drew Reinland was four back in third place at 278 while 2016 Lilac champ Derek Barron ended tied for fifth at 279 with Jamie Hall.

Murphy had planned to stay home, but thought, "I'm playing good, I might as well just give it a go now. It all worked out," as he collected his first professional purse in his first money event.

After opening play with a pair of one-under 71s on Thursday and Friday - shooting identical scores of 34 and 37 on both nines - Murphy began reeling in the competition.

He was not at all unhappy with those scores.

"I played really solid the first two days," Murphy said, shooting a pair of 71s on Thursday and Friday. "I was not unpleased with anything I did. I had a few mistakes, had a couple of bogeys."

Murphy was three-under both days through 12 holes, and shot one-under both days. "Anytime (you're) under par you can't complain," Murphy said.

Then he dialed it up, finishing Saturday with a 64 and 68 on Sunday.

"Going into it I was seven back so I knew I had to make something happen," Murphy said. "I went out there and tried to make as many birdies as I could."

Four consecutive birdies on holes four through seven on Saturday for a solid start.

"I knew the first six or seven holes were gettable and I birdied four through seven and I birdied nine and got five-under on that front-nine," Murphy said. He followed with a three-under-par on the back-nine for 64.

Murphy entered Sunday's final round tied with Clarkston's Reinland with a 206, closely followed by Prante and Dylan Maine at 207 and Wang's 208.

Murphy's group was the last in and followed Prante and Wang entering the back-nine with a three-shot lead.

He credited his success on putting down the stretch, except, perhaps on 18 where trouble on the green suddenly flared.

"The back-nine I made some good putts, went eagle, birdie on 14, 15," Murphy said.

On the final hole he still had a cushion. "I was stressing the tee shot, (but) I smoked it right down the middle," Murphy said.

Murphy ended up 135 yards out but got underneath the approach shot and ended off the green in the hazard. It was kind of an in between shot, he said.

His chip seemed to be wild, about 35 feet above the pin and left Murphy with a downhill putt, which he pushed past the hole. That was by design, he said. "I wanted to go a little long so I had an uphill putt."

With a double-bogey, the worst Murphy faced was a tie and a playoff, but his six, with three putts gave him the win by a whisker in another Lilac thriller.

Murphy next hits a series of similar pro events in South Dakota.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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