Bob Murphy went to the top of the Publinks’ leader board for career titles Sunday, defeating Emil Radik Jr. 4 and 3 in the Masters Flight final at Benson Park for his ninth championship.
Murphy, 68, had been tied with the late Bob Astleford with eight. Kim Mann has the women’s record with seven.
Murphy won his first title in 1966 at age 21, capturing the Second Flight. He was the Crown Flight winner in 1989. He won four Seniors Championship Flight crowns between 2001 and 2007. Since reaching 65, he’s won three of the past four Masters Flight titles.
Sunday didn’t get off to a promising start.
“We tied the first hole with triple-bogey 7s,” said Murphy, director of ministry support at Christ Community College.
He found his game first and took a 6-up lead with a conceded birdie on the par-5 11th. Radik, a three-time titlist who at 79 is believed to be the oldest to play in a Publinks final, won the next two holes to extend the match.
“Emil has had issues with his rotator cuff and just got cleared to play before the tournament,’’ Murphy said. “I hope I can get to 79.”
Pechar repeats in Seniors Flight
Gary Pechar is the first repeat champion in the Seniors Championship Flight (ages 55-64) since Murphy in 2004 and 2005.
The Papillion resident birdied three holes in a 4-and-3 win against Bob Murnan. Pechar’s first birdie, on the par-3 sixth with a 20-foot putt, gave him a 3-up lead. His second, on the par-5 eighth, halved the hole and the third, on the par-5 15th, closed out the match.
Zabawa has top turnaround
Seniors First Flight winner Tony Zabawa, who was in a final for the second time in three years, was 3 down after seven holes in Sunday’s match before flipping the score for a 3-and-2 win over Gary Cohen.
“I made a twisting, winding 15-footer for par on the ninth, and after that I was 1 over (par) on the back nine,” said Zabawa, who was the Fourth Flight runner-up in 2011.
Zabawa was the only one of four recent runners-up to win in their return to the finals. Coming up short again were Dan Bock (2010) in the First Flight, Sam Kumar (2011) in the Fourth Flight and Roger Oshima (2011) in the Fifth Flight.
Todd Christensen had three birdies on the back nine in giving Bock a 2-and-1 loss. Christensen made putts of 25 feet on the par-4 10th and 15 feet on the 15th and the par-3 16th.
Matt Kaup took a 5-up lead on Kumar going to the back nine before closing out a 4-and-3 win. Kaup birdied the second and eighth holes.
TJ Burbridge had the clutch putt of the day, making a 15-footer for birdie on the par-4 18th to edge Oshima 1-up. Oshima, who swings right-handed but putts left-handed, saw his 25-footer on the hole lip out before Burbridge made his putt for his fourth birdie of the round.
In other flights, Second Flight champion John Christ, a Bellevue East student, birdied the ninth hole to go 3-up in his 5-and-4 win over Tom Koopman. Third Flight winner Ben Bergstrom also made the turn with a 3-up lead in his 5-and-4 win over Kyle Skartvedt.
>> The city’s golf division provided complimentary golf for all finalists. Benson Park has hosted the finals annually since 1986.
>> Dennis Lee presented the Don Lee Championship Flight award, named for his late father, to Michael Hillyard on behalf of the Lee family. Don Lee was Publinks director from 1946 to 1988.
>> The winners and runners-up in all flights will receive engraved plaques by mail in the next six weeks. As champion, Hillyard will receive a $500 merchandise certificate. Runner-up Randy Christiansen will receive a $300 certificate. They also will be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for next year’s tournament.