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JOLLY BOB FINDS HIS GAME
Alfred Wright
September 27, 1965
A University of Florida senior, who did not even play golf until forced to give up football and baseball, Bob Murphy chain-smoked cigars to calm his nerves and got hot enough to win the U.S. Amateur
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September 27, 1965

Jolly Bob Finds His Game

A University of Florida senior, who did not even play golf until forced to give up football and baseball, Bob Murphy chain-smoked cigars to calm his nerves and got hot enough to win the U.S. Amateur

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"Well, then, add two to your score," said Benedict, driving on.

Mark Hopkins, the fine young Texas golfer who played on this year's Walker Cup team, ran into an unusual double penalty of three strokes. He had hit a shot so deeply into a sand trap that he decided it was unplayable. He lifted the ball and dropped it for a one-stroke penalty. The trouble was he dropped it outside the bunker. That cost two more strokes. Then there was the shot by Bob Douma of Tulsa that caromed off a tree and struck his own bag. Add on a couple of strokes. Michael Bonallack, the British Amateur champion, played somebody else's ball. Again: two strokes.

On the relatively safe terrain of the putting green there were troubles, too. Bill Campbell called a penalty on himself when the wind blew his ball as he was about to putt. And early in the first round Mike Good of Huntington, W. Va. putted his ball to within three feet of a hole, marked it with a coin and picked it up. "What are you doing?" an official asked him.

"Positioning my ball," Goodanswered.

"Two-stroke penalty," said the official. This happened because in order to speed up play at the Amateur the USGA was experimenting with two new rules. One required a player to putt continuously until he holed out unless this involved standing in the line of a fellow competitor's putt. The other stated that a ball could be lifted only once for cleaning on the putting green. Because Good said he lifted his ball to position it, he violated the second rule. The changes, incidentally, speeded up play considerably.

Even though the Dickson penalty may have cast an ever-so-slight shadow over Murphy's victory, there is no faulting the stolid, unflappable golf of the new champion—or his unsophisticated rural charm. Although Brooklyn-born, he now hails from Nichols, Fla. which, as he puts it, is "in the heart of the phosphate country. We all live in these little old shanties, so you can't say exactly how many people are in Nichols, but maybe 75."

Murphy's father is a low-handicap golfer, but football and baseball were Robert Jr.'s high school sports. A shoulder separation ended those careers, so, as a Florida physical-education major, he tried golf in his freshman year. "My first semester I averaged about 85 or 86 wearing sneakers and playing with an old set of clubs a man gave me," he says. "For Christmas my dad got me some golf shoes, and next semester I averaged 78.5." He has kept improving.

Not since 1911 has a player won the U.S. Amateur on his first try, but Murphy took the achievement in stride. He even predicted it. Eating a sandwich in the clubhouse after his first-round 73 on Wednesday, he was overheard drawling, "Ah'm gonna win this here tournament." Once again amateur golf has come up with an interesting champion. The pros will be glad to get him.

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