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Karen Murphy wins third Women's City Am title

on 28 September 2012.

Sugar Land’s Karen Murphy won the battle of attrition that was the championship match of the 44th Greater Houston Women’s City Amateur. With it, Murphy earned the coveted title for the third time.

Karen Murphy won her third Greater Houston Women's City Amateur title at Memorial Park Golf Course. Karen Murphy won her third Greater Houston Women's City Amateur title at Memorial Park Golf Course. “I’m exhausted,” said Murphy after she defeated Cindy Kuykendall in 20 holes at Memorial Park Golf Course. Murphy stuck a pitching wedge to inside of two feet on the final hole, a birdie that was conceded after Kuykendall missed her par attempt. Murphy also won the Women’s City Amateur in 2008 and 2010.

Seventy-five women competed in the championship this year. After 18 holes of qualifying stroke play on Monday, the field broke down into five flights of match play brackets. Four consecutive days of head-to-head action followed, meaning Murphy and Kuykendall were playing their fifth round of golf in as many days by the time they faced off in the final match.

Fatigue became a major factor for both players. Murphy, 48, had played only one full round of golf in the previous five months thanks to a bulging disc in her lower back. She said she underwent protein plasma injections—also known as blood-spinning—as well as a steroid shot in early September.

“The last full round of golf I played was a member-guest tournament at Houston Country Club in May,” said Murphy, whose husband Jim is the director of instruction at Sugar Creek Country Club, the couple’s home club in Sugar Land. Jim caddied for his wife in the championship match against Kuykendall.

One of Jim Murphy’s students in PGA Tour veteran Tom Byrum, who was among the gallery at Friday’s the championship match. After hearing Karen complain about fatigue in the middle portions of her early matches, Byrum gave Murphy some advice.

“Tom told me that he eats a peanut butter sandwich every three holes on the PGA Tour to give him energy,” Murphy said. “I started doing that yesterday (in the semifinals). I only ate a half sandwich every three holes, and it really helped.”

Kuykendall, 58, has her own issues with which to deal. For the past six months she has suffered from plantar fasciitis, a painful tissue inflation on the bottom of her left foot. Kuykendall walked the front nine at Memorial Park with her caddie, but was forced to take a cart for the final 11 holes.

“I don’t want to use injury as an excuse, but it does make it harder,” said Kuykendall, who plays out of Deerwood Golf Club in Kingwood.

Overall, Kuykendall was pleased with her efforts. Late to the game, she started playing golf at age 30. She finished as the runner-up in the Women’s City Amateur last year, too, losing to eight-time champion Robin Burke 7 and 5. Burke, the medalist in stroke play again this year, was upset in the first round of match play, 5 and 3, by Julie Robichaux.

“Hey, I made it farther in the championship match than I did last year,” said Kuykendall, the 2011 Greater Houston Women’s Senior Amateur champion and winner of the 2012 Texas Women’s Amateur Golf Association Championship. “I work with Chris Rowe at Whispering Pines, and we talk about just trying to be the best I can be. It’s not about winning this tournament or that one. It’s about trying to get better and being the best I can be.”

Despite running out of steam on the 20th hole—the par-3 second at Memorial Park—Kuykendall was her best on the shortest holes. She birdied three of the four par 3s in the final match, yet still found herself 1 down to Murphy at the turn. Kuykendall birdied the par-4 10th to square the match. From there Murphy took 1-up leads three more times only to watch Kuykendall scratch her way back to all square.

Murphy’s dart on the 20th hole finally ended it. She said her caddie gave her one last piece of advice before she struck the pitching wedge.

“He told me to stick it,” Murphy said.

In the First Flight championship match, Karen Shewbart defeated Sara DeVillers, 1 up. In the Second Flight, June Hamilton scored a 5-and-4 victory against Cynthia Birch. In the Third Flight, Jackie Sitton beat Diane Eddington, 3 and 2. In the Fourth Flight, Sherry Lewis defeated Donna Kohlhausen, 3 and 2. For full results, click here.