It is never easy adapting to a different competitive environment, but if you are as immensely talented as Australian Zach Murray, then turning professional is simply a walk in the proverbial park.
In fact, Murray not only adapted well to being a full-time golfer, but he has also excelled in it. Last week, the 21-year-old bested a talented field to win the 100th edition of the storied New Zealand Open.
During the tournament, he exhibited his outstanding skills by opening with a flawless eight-under-par 63 as well as his steady composure by pulling away from a fast-chasing pack in the final round to win by two shots.
Murray managed the tournament like a grizzled veteran, so it may come to a surprise to some that he joined the play-for-pay ranks less than six months ago.
He made his professional debut at his National Open in November last year on the back of a successful amateur career.
A month later, he earned an Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School by finishing strongly in fourth place.
The victory in Queenstown came after only his third start on Asia’s premier circuit.
“Starting my career like this is so huge. No words can describe my feeling right now,” said Murray, upon winning the New Zealand Open.
Murray took home a winner’s cheque of AUD$211,724 and received a total of 15 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. He has also earned a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour.
He added: “I look forward to playing full time in Asia. This victory means a lot to me. I am loving the game at the moment and I just want to keep playing well and capitalise on this win.
“I really like Asia. It’s pretty close to home. My family and friends can come out and support if I do well. I have friends who played in Asia before telling me that the people are nice and supportive in Asia, so I am looking forward to it!”
Murray has risen from tied-20th to second on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings. Ahead of him is Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who has enjoyed a splendid start to his 2019 season.
Jazz signed off with a solid 66 to finish in fourth place in New Zealand. It was his third top-10 result in as many tournaments following his win at the SMBC Singapore Open and a tied-ninth finish at the end of the stroke play rounds at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
The Asian Tour will be heading next to the US$3,000,000 Maybank Championship, which will be happening from March 21 to 24 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $239,800.44
2. Zach MURRAY (AUS) $172,040.71
3. Scott VINCENT (ZWE) $63,595.03
4. Ben CAMPBELL (NZL) $41,648.48
5. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $40,618.10
6. Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) $37,869.98
7. Doyeob MUN (KOR) $37,150.00
8. Gareth PADDISON (NZL) $36,327.27
9. Berry HENSON (USA) $28,189.96
10. Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA) $26,500.00
11. Andrew DODT (AUS) $24,663.56
12. Yuta IKEDA (JPN) $24,535.51
13. Kodai ICHIHARA (JPN) $23,945.45
14. Travis SMYTH (AUS) $23,220.31
15. Paul PETERSON (USA) $20,539.20
16. Jarin TODD (USA) $19,316.67
17. Yikeun CHANG (KOR) $19,095.67
18. Miguel TABUENA (PHI) $17,457.17
19. Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) $16,684.08
20. Shiv KAPUR (IND) $15,253.59