Brian Murphy

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Brian Murphy covered golf for the San Francisco Chronicle and now talks about sports in the mornings on KNBR Radio's "Murph & Mac" show in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Bubba's second green jacket looked nice, but The Masters still missed Tiger and Phil

    If this turns out to be one of those "The Masters really missed Tiger and Phil" columns, do you promise not to yell and scream and tell me about Bubba Watson's tee shot on 13, and his crazy approach through the trees on 15 and his adorable moment with his son Caleb on the 18th green?

    Because – shhhh! – this Masters did miss Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

    Now, now. That is not to slight Bubba's triumph, his second green jacket in three years, his growing reputation as a man who may not be finished winning amid the cathedral of pines. Given his length, his creativity, his demolition of par-5s and, yes, his left-handedness, he fits the bill at Magnolia Lane.

    The bigger problem was the cast of characters around Bubba. This Masters lacked fireworks. That whole "roars amid the pines" thing we get every April? Could have fooled me. The reverential say Augusta National is like a church. It was as quiet as one on the back nine Sunday.

    Even Bubba himself shot a mostly ho-hum even-par 36 on the

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  • With Tiger missing, who's the favorite at this year's Masters?

    It's Masters week, and that means we should all ponder the question: If they hold a Masters, and Tiger Woods doesn't play, does that Masters exist?

    What a silly question. No Tiger? No red shirt on Sunday? No quest for a fifth green jacket? Of course it doesn't exist.

    Kidding! Kidding! Relax, golf fan.

    The Champions locker room has plenty of lockers without the name "Woods" on it, as I was just saying to my good friends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

    In fact, Woods' absence could be greeted with sharper-edged query. Like, since Tiger Woods hasn't won a Masters since 2005, who really cares that he'll miss it? He wouldn't have won, anyway.

    This Masters figures, like most, to be a donnybrook. There is no clear favorite, and yes, I'm talking to you, Rory (Watch Out, I Shot 65 at Houston Sunday) McIlroy. Fun fact: Rory has played five Masters, and has yet to finish in the top 10.

    There are, instead, about 40 candidates to win. And, yes, Rory would be one of them. He's only 24,

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  • Steven Bowditch stays cool at Texas Open as PGA Tour's big names again fade

    We're getting to the point now, with every Steven Bowditch win, that follows a Matt Every win, that follows a John Senden win, where as a golf fan you either spin super-positive and say, "Hey, what a nice story this guy is! Congrats!" or you grab the remote control, flip over to March Madness and say, "Wake me when the Masters comes. Seriously."

    For those of us in the "Up With People!" brigade, let's take a moment to examine the emotional win for Bowditch at the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, because it comes with a backstory and it was unlikely and, hell, he shot 76 on Sunday and still won. For those of you waiting for a big name and Augusta National, I understand. We'll see you in a little more than a week.

    But Bowditch, that's a surprise. He was ranked 339th in the world and he'd never won on the PGA Tour. Hell, in 109 previous PGA Tour starts, he'd logged only two top-10 finishes, none in his 12 starts this year. For good measure of unlikelihood, he'd missed three of his

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  • Adam Scott's collapse opens door for Matt Every's first PGA Tour win

    The Florida Swing is over, and the moral of the story is: Every man can win.

    That's a joke, folks. Matt Every won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, and while we doff our caps for the 30-year-old Floridian's first career win in 93 PGA Tour starts, we also marvel at the revolution taking place.

    The Sunshine State golf this year started with young'n Russell Henley toppling Rory McIlroy (who shot a Sunday 74) at the Honda Classic. It moved on to see Patrick (Top Five, Whether You Like It Or Not) Reed stun the world's top-50 at Doral. We watched John Senden remind us that the 40-plus crowd can still dust off the skills once in a while at Innisbrook.

    And then just when it seemed royalty was ready to restore order, Adam Scott prepped for his Masters defense by blowing a seven-shot lead in front of the King, right down to a Sunday 76. Not to say that'll spoil Scott's green-jacketed homecoming in a couple of weeks, but if I were the valet on Magnolia Lane, I'd avoid eye contact with the

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  • Move over young guns: PGA Tour gets its first over-40 winner of the season

    In honor of Selection Sunday, the PGA Tour gave us a winner named Senden. So, for all you combination golf/Bill Raftery fans, we can say to the 2014 winner of something called the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook:

    "SENDEN IT IN, JOHN!"

    Truth be told, the wind-whipped final round at Innisbrook could have used the charisma of a Raftery. The post-Doral leaderboard featured some low-wattage names that Valspar, which is apparently some sort of paint company, would have liked to whitewash. Nothing against Robert Garrigus and Scott Langley and Kevin Na and John Senden but … well, I guess it is something against those guys. None of them was ranked in the world top 100 entering Sunday's final round.

    So you began to choose which story you liked best. You had the villain Na, excoriated for his slow play as if he were Attilla the Hun himself. Might be fun to root for the black hat, yes? Langley, at 24 another young gun in an era of young guns, would have fit the 2014 motif. And then there was

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  • Why Patrick Reed's post-win rant was warranted

    When the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship took place at Doral, the boast by organizers was of the "top 50 players in the world" jousting for the cup. And "top 50" was code for Tiger, Rory, Phil and other assorted first-name-only dudes.

    Little did anyone know it would be a brand-new first name-only player who would go wire-to-wire to win Doral for his third PGA Tour win at age 23, metaphorically slapping the bumper sticker on his courtesy car that reads: "HOW'S MY PLAYING? DIAL 1-800-EAT-DUST."

    Yep, that's Patrick's game.

    If you have to ask who Patrick is, you haven't been following the exploits of the thick-forearmed, scruffy-faced, necklace-wearing Patrick Reed, who alternately laughed off and sweated through challenges from the world's best to fire a final-round 72 to back up Saturday's 69 and bag his third PGA Tour win in the past seven months.

    He not only joined the shortest of first-name lists – only Tiger, Rory, Phil and Sergio have also won three Tour events by age

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  • Collapse extends Rory McIlroy's PGA winless streak

    They don't make golfers more tantalizing, or frustrating, than young Rory McIlroy.

    Two major championships by age 23, the most buttery of golf swings, a humble, grounded, approachable persona – heck, even throw in the appeal of the soft Northern Irish accent – make him about as easy a player to root for since "Champagne" Tony Lema roamed the fairways.

    And yet, there is a tragic side to McIlroy's game, even at this tender age. You mix the tragedy with the many bursts of glory, and you have the recipe for McIlroy Madness.

    The 2011 Masters, in which he turned a four-shot, 54-hole lead and a certain coronation into a final-round 80 (the worst score ever posted by a player leading a major after 54 holes), showed us that side of him. But we forgot about it because of how he bounced back two months later at the 2011 U.S. Open, an eight-stroke victory that called to mind a young Tiger Woods. And that he did it again, thumping the 2012 PGA Championship field by eight strokes at Kiawah? The kid

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  • How Victor Dubuisson stole the show from Jason Day at the Match Play Championship

    Poor Jason Day. The guy wins the biggest tournament of his career, the guy cements himself, at age 26, as one of golf's great young players, the guy is the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play champ after an epic, sprawling, knockdown, drag-out 23-hole match, and all anybody can talk about is Victor Dubuisson.

    Heck, even Day was talking about Victor Dubuisson. Right after Day finally held off the never-say-die Frenchman, his first words to CBS were: "Victor has a lot of guts … a lot of people knew he was the No. 1 world amateur in 2009, but for a 23-year-old, he's got a lot of game … you're going to see a lot of him for years to come."

    Everybody wants to talk Dubuisson.

    First off, it's just fun to say. Vic-tor Doo-bwee-sohn … say it in your French accent, and it's even more fun. Veec-tor Dooo-bweee-sohnnnnnn …

    That's part of Dubuisson's appeal, no doubt. He's French. All anybody thinks about in terms of French golf is one man, the anti-Dubuisson, and that's Jean van de Velde.

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  • Bubba Watson and his son win the weekend at Riviera in spite of golfer's snippy attitude

    The last time we saw Bubba Watson win, it was in the gloaming, at Augusta in 2012, after one of the great shots in Masters history, and he wept and wept and we all learned how he and his wife, Angie, could not conceive a baby and had just adopted their first child and now he was a Masters champ the very week they brought young Caleb home and it all seemed too wildly good and happy to be true.

    Flash forward nearly two years, to Sunday at venerable Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, and there was Bubba winning for the first time since then, and there was little Caleb, the adopted boy who is their son, nearly 2-years-old, cuter than cute could possibly be, in his Mommy's arms, shouting "Yay, Daddy!" when his old man capped off a 64-64 weekend at one of America's great golf courses.

    You think Bubba was the only one a little misty-eyed?

    It's OK, golf fans. You can dab at the corners with a hanky. I'll wait a moment.

    OK, we're back.

    It was all heartwarming enough to overlook Bubba's

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  • Jimmy Walker overcomes Clint Eastwood jinx to keep otherworldly start going

    We had it all at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Crosby weather, Kid Rock saying he spent the Saturday delay in the bar, another Jimmy Walker win and Clint Eastwood, cool as ever at age 83.

    Eastwood was the story of the week for saving tournament director Steve John's life with the Heimlich on Wednesday night – true story – and then dropped this raspy-voiced pearl in the CBS booth as Walker tried to hang on for dear life on the 18th hole at Pebble:

    "There'll be a big check for whoever doesn't choke down there."

    File that in the 'Clint Classics' file, along with his eternally hip cinema lines like "Make my day" and "Nobody, I mean, nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog", scarring for life those of us who do, now sheepishly, enjoy ketchup on a hot dog. Clint also dusted off some beauties at Pebble, once decrying players who complain about the weather as "candy asses", and then Sunday verbalizing, Johnny Miller-style, what we were all thinking as Walker wobbled home: Don't choke!

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