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.

  • Denver Broncos fan Kevin Stadler endures best/worst Sunday ... maybe ever

    Let’s quickly get the Kevin Stadler-was-wearing-Broncos-orange and Kevin-Stadler-is-a-Broncos-fan jokes out of the way early:

    Q: What’s the difference between Kevin Stadler’s Phoenix Open win and the Broncos’ Super Bowl flameout?

    A: One showed up on time; one never showed up.

    Q: What happened to Stadler’s favorite QB, Peyton Manning?

    A: Turns out spending Saturday at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole was a baaaaaad idea . . .

    All right, all right. We could go on. But in reality, the only bad thing to happen to Kevin Stadler on Sunday was the fate of his beloved NFL team, which laid one of the biggest, stinkiest eggs in Super Bowl history. And the Broncos know from laying big, stinky eggs in Super Bowls. Oh! Cheap shot. Sorry, Kevin.

    Otherwise, Sunday was Super for Kevin Stadler.

    The 33-year-old journeyman’s one-shot win over Bubba Watson and the appealing Canadian, Graham DeLaet, ended a long wait, and was his first in 239 PGA Tour starts, or, as Stadler estimated after the round, his first in “295

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  • Lateral Hazard: Where Tiger Woods shows us what an 'MDF' looks like

    Tiger Woods will try to bounce back from his ghastly performance at Torrey Pines next week in Dubai. (AP)
    Have to admit, didn’t think the name ‘Scott Stallings’ was going to be a part of today’s column.

    I mean, Torrey Pines, right? You start by spell-checking ‘Tiger’ and ‘Woods’, you rack your brain thinking of the new Tiger Angle at Torrey, and then you leave a little bit of your column for Phil Mickelson and you call it a day. That’s Torrey in January: Tiger, Tiger, Tiger, a little Phil, some more Tiger, and we’re off to Phoenix.

    And yet, by Sunday morning on the bluffs above La Jolla, neither of those dudes was even on the premises. That’s a problem for a golf writer.

    So I began plotting my Jordan Spieth Column, the one in which he becomes the third-youngest player in the history of the game to win twice on the PGA Tour. But then Spieth got stuck in neutral, and never found his rhythm, and quite frankly looked a little anxious in the spotlight.

    That left the Gary Woodland Story. OK, we can work with that. Woodland is one of the biggest bombers on Tour, and at age 29 was perhaps ready to

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  • Does the PGA have another young star in the making?

    This column comes to you today with a heavy heart, sports fans. As a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and avid 49ers fan, the sting of the NFC championship loss in Seattle has me grasping for something, anything to ease the pain.

    Patrick Reed, come on down. Why the heck not?

    The stocky 23-year-old not only dazzled the record books with his trifecta of 63s to open the Humana Challenge in the California desert, he closed the deal when he had to on Sunday with some key putts at the finish of his final-round 71 to win for the second time in just 46 starts. The kid is a winner, a finisher.

    Does that make him, say, the Richard Sherman of the PGA Tour?

    I don't know. My head was buried too far in a couch pillow to see if Reed chased down runner-up Ryan Palmer to offer him a sarcastic slap on the rear and accompanying needling handshake while woofing in his ear. I was too busy staring off into the darkness to see if Reed grabbed The Golf Channel microphone and shouted: "THAT'S WHAT

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  • Lateral Hazard: How Jimmy Walker's Sony Open win may end up hurting him

    The first full-field event of the 2014 PGA Tour calendar year goes to a soft-spoken, big-hitting Texan named Jimmy Walker, and give him a moment before you high-five him – he might be busy studying congratulatory and cautionary texts from Ryan Palmer, Johnson Wagner and Russell Henley.

    That's the curse of the Sony Open at Waialae. Because it's the lid-lifter in January, the post-Rose Bowl, post-Kapalua, pre-California Swing event, we tend to get all excited about it. Look! It's Honolulu! It's a full field! There's waves and surfers! Whoever wins this event must be awesome and destined to win the Grand Slam!

    Or something like that.

    So, the names of Palmer, Wagner and Henley were invoked to give an example. Each won the Sony Open: Palmer in 2010, Wagner in 2012, Henley in 2013, and each has yet to win since. All praise and career guarantees heaped upon them was likely premature. Or, to paraphrase Harvey Keitel's 'Wolf' from "Pulp Fiction", "Wellll … let's not start Sony-ing each other's

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  • Candlestick Park is a 'pigsty' worthy of love, not ridicule

    The man whose team called it home while winning five Super Bowls labeled it a "pigsty." A Hall of Fame baseball manager called it "a toilet with the lid up." A Giants player said the only difference between it and nearby maximum security prison San Quentin is, "here they let you go home at night." And San Francisco's late, great beloved columnist, for whom an Embarcadero waterfront is named, called it "the ninth blunder of the world."

    With all due respect to Eddie DeBartolo, Whitey Herzog, Bob Knepper, Herb Caen and so many others who are currently saying good riddance to it, I say: I come not to bury Candlestick Park, but to praise it. Jerry Rice said goodbye to Candlestick as a 49er in 2000. (Getty Images)

    On Monday night, the San Francisco 49ers will play the Atlanta Falcons at Candlestick Park, the final game scheduled at the stadium that opened in 1960. When the final gun sounds, 54 years of wind-whipped memories will close. Those memories, and that history, mean more than the damp cold when the fog swept through July nights at Giants baseball games.

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  • The USA Team poses with the Presidents Cup trophy after winning. (USA Today)The USA Team poses with the Presidents Cup trophy after winning. (USA Today)
    Don't want to say the 2013 President's Cup was anticlimactic, but getting a text alert on your smart phone Sunday afternoon that informs you Team USA won the Cup when Tiger Woods defeated Richard Sterne, 1-up – while on your TV, Tiger Woods lined up a putt on the 12th hole – was, shall we say, excitement-deficient.

    Surprised the smart phone text alert didn't come with its own weather delay.

    OK, OK. So the President's Cup is once again an easy target for couch potato wiseacres. It once again featured an International team struggling for cohesion among disparate players from five different continents – Australia, Africa, Asia, South America and North America, if you're counting. It once again featured a drama-free U.S. win – the 5th consecutive won by Uncle Sam, with the closest being a comfortable three-point victory this year and in 2005. And it once again featured a low-wattage threat to an NFL Week 5 packed with Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, a college football Saturday in which the

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  • Lateral Hazard: Blessed by golf gods, Henrik Stenson lands $11.4 million payday

    Henrik Stenson wasn't the most jovial guy after having won $11.4 million. (AP)
    A relaxed and somewhat chatty Tiger Woods wrapped up his 2013 season with media after the Tour Championship on Sunday, when he made mention of a streak he had in 2007 where he "made everything" and won a lot. He said the same was true with Luke Donald on his ascent to No. 1, that he made putts and couldn't hit a bad shot; and same with Rory McIlroy, too, when he soared to No. 1.

    (Remember him? Rory? Curly haired kid? Irish accent?)

    So I guess that Tiger Theory is as good a way as any to explain the Henrik Stenson Phenomenon that seems to have visited golf from an alternate galaxy.

    The 37-year-old Swede is the latest to have the golf gods pull him aside, give him a wink and say: "This, kid. This is your time. Enjoy it, because we won't be saying this to you for the rest of your life. This is what we do. We come, we reward those who find something in their swing and in their brain, we let you roll, we get you paid, and then eventually we'll come pull the rug out from under you. Just ask

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  • Lateral Hazard: Tiger Woods in charge of FedEx Cup race

    Tiger Woods is the still in strong position to win the FedEx Cup. (USA Today)

    Here they come, the top 30 players left in the FedEx Cup playoffs, marching toward Atlanta, and look who's the first guy off the plane:

    Good ol' Tiger Woods.

    Yep, in this weird year of five wins, no majors and oscillating golf balls, the Man in Sunday Red – or, in the case of the weather-delayed BMW Championships, Monday Red – still has the inside track at winning the Cup for the third time in his career, and for the first since his public fall from grace in 2009. Oh, and he'd win $10 million, so he'd like that, I'm sure.

    All Tiger has to do is win the Tour Championship on Sunday, and the purse is his. Now, there are other, more complicated ways he can win it, but you don't want to know those ways, do you? You do? Aw, geez. I might get a headache, but suffice to say, he can finish as low as 29th at East Lake's Tour Championship, and he could still redeem his voucher for $10 mil.

    The brief lead Henrik Stenson took in the FedEx Cup playoffs two weeks ago evaporated when Stenson stumbled his

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  • Lateral Hazard: Henrik Stenson pressuring Tiger Woods for $10 million FedEx Cup prize

    Bad enough that Tiger Woods endured another season without winning a major. Now somebody's coming for his wallet.

    That somebody would be the sweet-swinging Swede Henrik Stenson, who obliterated TPC Boston with an avalanche of consistent ball-striking and won the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day, moving past Tiger for the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs with only two legs left. Oh, by the way, the guy who wins the FedEx Cup wins $10 million, more money than Dr. Evil could have ever dreamed.

    With five wins this year and the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings well in hand when the playoffs opened, you'd think Tiger was in line for a third FedEx Cup playoff win, to match 2007 and 2009. Ten million would be a welcome salve for a year in which Jack Nicklaus' ghost stiff-armed Tiger yet again.

    But Stenson is coming strong. He attacks the game with the fearlessness of a guy who has stared into the abyss, only three years ago falling from the world's top 10 to 230th on the planet

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  • Lateral Hazard: Measuring Tiger Woods' quantity vs. Adam Scott's quality

    That little patch of grass between the Nike swoosh on Tiger's golf ball and the 18th hole at Liberty National Golf Course on Sunday (maybe, what, three-quarters of an inch?), was that the difference between Adam Scott and Tiger Woods winning PGA Tour Player of the Year?

    Could be. The whole scene was enough to make a world number one player grimace twice – first from the kind of back spasm a soon-to-be 38-year-old suffers; second, because his golf ball stayed one rotation away from forcing a playoff with Scott, the man who right now appears to be the lead horse in the POY race, which is determined by player vote.

    After all, here is the New Math: Tiger's five wins are not equal to Scott's two wins. Nope. Not when one of the two wins is the Masters, and second of the two wins is the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. That math is made more striking when the second win is one stroke ahead of the guy with five wins – none of which is a major or a Fed Ex playoff leg.

    Now, just think if

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Pagination

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