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Rain cannot cool off what has been a hot spring for Murphy

Former L-E standout wins CGA Four-Ball tourney

Posted: May 25, 2017 11:20 a.m.
Updated: May 30, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of the Carolinas Golf Association/

ELGIN’S KELLI MURPHY (right) holds up the Vicki Hillen Memorial Trophy after she and her playing partner, Reona Hirai of Summerville, teamed up to win the 40th Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball on Wednesday in Southern Pines, N.C.

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. --- Elgin’s Kelli Murphy, a rising senior at Auburn University, teamed with Furman University rising sophomore Reona Hirai to finish 5-under-par 66 and win the championship division of the 40th Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball on Wednesday. 

The championship, played over the Pine Needles Lodge & Gold Club course, was reduced to an 18-hole format after inclement weather canceled the first round. 

Murphy, a Lugoff-Elgin graduate and a standout on Mike Robinson’s boys’ golf team in high school, claimed her fifth Carolinas Golf Association title and her first since 2014, when she won both the Carolinas Young Amateur and Vicki DiSantis Junior Girls’.

Hirai, a native of Summerville, captured her first CGA title. 

“We were able to work really well together,” said Murphy following the victory. “We grew up playing junior golf together since we were about eight, so our games fit really well. We don’t get to play in many college tournaments together so it was a really good opportunity.”

This was the first time that the Murphy/Hirai duo had played together since their junior golf days in South Carolina, so the pair came out with an “all-or-nothing” mentality. In total, they posted five birdies, including four in a six-hole span on the front nine.  

“We had a goal set for ourselves,” said Hirai. “We were just trying to get as many birdies as we could and make as much use of the opportunities that we were able to get.”

The four-ball win was the latest achievement in what has been a big spring season for Murphy who was honored for the second time in as many years by the Southeastern Conference by being named to the SEC Community Service Team. 

On the golf course, Murphy helped lead Auburn to its 21st postseason appearance in the last 22 years as the Tigers were selected to the NCAA Athens Regional. Murphy finished tied for 36th in the 2017 SEC Championship played over the Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. Murphy posted a 73-72-77=222 (+6) score for the 54-hole event.

In the NCAA Regional at the University of Georgia Golf Course, Murphy helped the Tigers to a 12th place finish. Individually, Murphy came in tied for 43rd after shooting a 77-75-74--226 (+10).

This past season, she shot a career-best 65 in the Pinehurst Challenge, tying for the second lowest round in Auburn history.

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