Rookie Mur­ray takes first US PGA ti­tle by a shot

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Grayson Mur­ray, a 23-year-old Amer­i­can rookie, fired a three-un­der par 68 Sun­day to win the Bar­ba­sol Cham­pi­onship, edg­ing com­pa­triot Chad Collins by a stroke for his first US PGA ti­tle. Mur­ray, who missed the cut in nine of his prior 23 tour starts, sank a tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th hole for his mar­gin of vic­tory at the Robert Trent Jones Grand Na­tional lay­out in Auburn, Alabama.

“I was in con­trol. I didn’t get out of my game plan once,” Mur­ray said, call­ing his tee shots “the best I’ve ever driven it in my life.” Mur­ray took the $630,000 top prize af­ter fin­ish­ing 72 holes on 21un­der par 263 with Collins sec­ond on 264 and Brian Gay, Tag Rid­ings and Scott Stallings next in an all-US top 10 on 265. The event, played op­po­site the Bri­tish Open at Royal Birk­dale, fea­tured play­ers largely fight­ing to reach the US PGA points list top 125 and qual­ify for the sea­so­nend­ing play­offs that be­gin next month.

World num­ber 156 Mur­ray ranked 124th in the US PGA play­off chase be­fore this week but jumped into the top 60 with the tri­umph. “To get into the play­offs, that was my goal this year,” Mur­ray said. “I didn’t set my goals too high for my first year.”

Six play­ers were in the hunt down the fi­nal holes, but Mur­ray en­dured down the stretch af­ter a bo­gey-birdie start and clos­ing the front nine with birdies at seven and nine around a bo­gey at the eighth.

Mur­ray ea­gled the par-5 13th, drop­ping his sec­ond shot four feet from the cup and mak­ing the putt, but found a fair­way bunker off the 14th tee and made bo­gey, set­ting up the birdie at 16 that proved the dif­fer­ence. While book­ing a spot at next month’s PGA Cham­pi­onship, Mur­ray did not claim a berth in next year’s Mas­ters, with US PGA win­ners in events op­po­site ma­jors or World Golf Cham­pi­onship events not earn­ing an au­to­matic berth at Au­gusta Na­tional.

Stallings, seek­ing his fourth ca­reer PGA ti­tle and first since 2014, be­gan the day with a on­e­stroke edge on Mur­ray atop the leader­board but fired a 71. He fell back with a three-putt bo­gey at the par-5 13th, stayed within reach with a six-foot birdie at 16, but need­ing a birdie at 18 to match Mur­ray, his tee shot went far right be­yond a cart path and needed three shots to make the green at the par-4 18th to doom his hopes.

AUBURN: Grayson Mur­ray of the United States cel­e­brates with the tro­phy af­ter win­ning on the 18th green dur­ing the fi­nal round of the Bar­ba­sol Cham­pi­onship at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand Na­tional on Sun­day in Auburn, Alabama. —AFP

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