For the past year, Grayson Murray’s Twitter bio has simply said: “Pro golfer on the Web.com Tour.”
Murray recently was able to change that. The new one: “Pro golfer on the PGA Tour.”
That’s quite a change in status and Murray worked hard to make it happen. The Raleigh native did it by finishing among the top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour this year, earning playing rights on the PGA Tour for 2016-17.
“It’s something you definitely want to change, right?” Murray said Wednesday. “It’s a cool feeling. The Web.com Tour is a great tour and a great building ground. But it’s always great to achieve your biggest goal, and that’s being on the big tour. That’s what everyone wants.”
Murray’s ascent this year has been sudden, impressive. He began it with conditional status on the Web.com Tour and missed the cut in his first event.
But Murray parlayed a sponsor’s exemption into the Rex Hospital Open into what proved to be a rewarding golf ride. He finished tied for 10th at TPC Wakefield Plantation in mid-May, getting him into the next event, the BMW Charity Pro-Am, where he tied for eighth.
“The Rex was huge for me,” Murray said. “Without the Rex, I’m probably not in this position.”
Murray, 22, said his agent contacted Brian Krusoe, tournament director of the Rex Hospital Open, asking that Murray be considered for a sponsor’s exemption.
In 2010, when he was 16, Murray won a junior invitational at Wakefield to gain a spot in the Rex Hospital Open. He then had a second-round 66, becoming the second-youngest player to make a 36-hole cut in a Web.com Tour event.
“We get a lot of letters from quality players wanting a chance to play,” Krusoe said. “Grayson was a local talent with a history with us who wanted that chance. There’s pressure, playing at home. But the thought was if he played well, he might go on to have a good year. That’s the way it transpired.”
After the BMW Charity Pro-Am, he had four more top-10 finishes, making the cut in eight of 14 events. In the Ally Digital event in August, he was beaten out by Wesley Bryan in a two-hole playoff that also included J.T. Poston, one of Murray’s best friends on tour.
Murray finished 18th on the money list with $159,963. Also earning his PGA Tour card was Brad Fritsch, a Holly Springs resident and former Campbell golfer who scored his first Web.com Tour victory and was 14th in money.
“It’s crazy how it happened,” Murray said. “But I thought I played consistently well and I was comfortable on the weekends. Some people have a tough time on the weekends.”
Murray, proving to be a good closer, was 10th on tour in third-round scoring average (68.38) and second in fourth rounds (68.0).
Most of Murray’s other statistical numbers are good: second in scoring (68.73), fifth in driving distance (316.8 yards), first in birdie average (5.0 a round). He finished first in the all-around ranking on tour, a nice distinction.
“I think it shows I have a pretty complete game,” he said. “But there’s definitely room for improvement. If I hit one more fairway a round, that might mean one more birdie a round. Four more birdies in a tournament can make a difference.”
Murray has more golf to play before the PGA Tour’s 2016-17 schedule begins in October at the Frys.com Open. The four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals can help a player improve his playing status on the PGA Tour.
For Murray, golf hasn’t always been a smooth ride. He jumped from college to college, beginning at Wake Forest and eventually landing at Arizona State. As he put it, “There were life situations I had to overcome.”
Before the Rex this year, Murray said, “One good week can change your whole path.” He was right.
“I’m very excited but there’s no time to celebrate,” Murray said. “I can’t take anything for granted. I have to stay focused.”