Friend drew name that changed Tom Murphy's life
It wasn't the lotto, but a drawing changed Tom Murphy's life in 1970.
The last of nine Murphy boys who played high school golf in the 1960s and '70s, he helped Rochester Lourdes win a pair of Catholic school state championships.
The U.S. Open was coming to Minnesota the summer of '70, and Murphy, 18, and just-graduated from Lourdes, wanted to caddie for someone in the Open field. Nowadays most professional players bring their own caddies to tournaments, but that was not the case then. Players' names were put in a bowl, and prospective caddies drew.
But Murphy was torn. He wanted to play in an amateur tournament in Rochester but was told he had to be there in person for the drawing. So he enlisted the help of his friend Mike Kelley.
"He put on my caddie uniform and my name tag and drew for me. ... We pulled out (Tony) Jacklin," Murphy said. "The next morning the Pioneer Press had a list of caddies and the players they got — and it ran a picture of (Kelley) identified as me.
"When I showed up Monday morning for the first practice round, a tournament official came up, put his arm around me and said, 'Now aren't you glad you came to that meeting?' I kind of slinked off before he figured out I wasn't the one at the drawing."
It was a good draw. Eleven months before, Jacklin had won the British Open, one of pro golf's four majors.
Jacklin led the 1970 U.S. Open after the first round. And after the second round. And after the third round. And after the final round — by seven strokes — as he won another major tournament.
Jacklin made $30,000 for winning his U.S. Open championship — by comparison, 2013 champion Justin Rose received $1.44 million — and 10 percent of that went to Murphy, who until then had been shining shoes and working as a hotel night clerk to bring in money.
"In those days, $3,000 was quite a bit of money,'' Murphy told the Post-Bulletin many years later. "Like, wow. I think a Cadillac back then cost $5,000. My week at Hazeltine paid for a year's worth of college."
They stayed in touch over the years, and in 2009 Murphy reunited with Jacklin to caddie as the Englishman was playing in the professional senior tournament in the Twin Cities.
Coached a dynasty
Murphy — whose death was announced Tuesday — went on to golf for two years at Mankato State and two at Arizona State before returning to Rochester to begin a career in business as well as coaching.
He began coaching boys golf at his alma mater at age 26 in 1978. The program turned into a dynasty.
In June 2006, Murphy announced his retirement from coaching after 29 years. Under his direction, the Eagles won 21 sub-section titles, 19 conference titles, and had 17 state meet appearances, six state team champions and four individual state champions.
Murphy was inducted into the Minnesota State Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, the Lourdes Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rochester Quarterbacks Hall of Fame.
"My whole life I feel so lucky, so blessed," he said in his speech upon being inducted into the Quarterbacks Hall of Fame in 2008.
Besides his Rochester bar and restaurant entities, Murphy co-owned Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz.