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Murray snares first pro title at NZ golf

Victorian golfer Zach Murray has fought back over the closing holes at the New Zealand Open to claim a maiden professional crown.

Murray snares first pro title at NZ golf

Victorian golfer Zach Murray has fought back over the closing holes at the New Zealand Open to claim a maiden professional crown.

ZACH MURRAY of Australia lines up a putt during day three of the 2019 New Zealand Open at The Hills Golf Club in Queenstown, New Zealand.
ZACH MURRAY of Australia lines up a putt during day three of the 2019 New Zealand Open at The Hills Golf Club in Queenstown, New Zealand. Picture:Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Adversity has been Zach Murray's most important ally, with the young Australian golfer surging home to clinch a maiden win as a professional at the New Zealand Open.

Murray showed fighting qualities and a maturity that concealed his tender age of 21, securing a wire-to-wire triumph at The Hills course near Queenstown by two shots.


As he did in the third round, Murray unleashed his best golf on Sunday after losing the lead, shooting an eagle on the par-5 13th to launch an unstoppable charge for victory at the tournament's 100th edition.

Murray closed with a four-under-par 68 to finish on 21-under, heading off fellow Victorian Ashley Hall and Kiwi Josh Geary.

Asian Tour money leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand shot a round-of-the-day 64 to place fourth.

However, the tournament belonged to Murray, who began the summer with victory at October's WA Open, weeks before switching to the pro ranks.

It all came easily in the first two rounds at the picturesque South Island venue, opening up a five-stroke advantage after carding 63 and 65.

Geary claimed the lead midway through day three but Murray recovered his poise with late birdies and he repeated the dose when Hall charged to the top of the leaderboard during a closing 65.

Trailing Hall by two shots after carding a bogey on the 11th, Murray picked up four shots from holes 13 to 15.

Three-time pro winner Hall, 35, couldn't respond. His previously flawless round faltered with a bogey on the 18th, handing his compatriot a three-stroke buffer.

Murray admitted his composure deserted him for the first time when he also bogeyed the final hole.

Adrenaline was pumping as he hit wild first and second shots before a sublime chip from a difficult position.

"I never thought I was going to get off the 18th," he said.

"I was pretty nervous. I settled down there for a while but, as soon as I stepped onto the 18th tee, I tried to calm myself down.

"I'm glad she's all done and dusted - it's been a fantastic week."

Murray banks a winner's cheque of $210,000 and becomes the seventh different Australian champion from the past eight New Zealand Opens.

He is also the first player to lead after every round since Kiwi great Bob Charles in 1954 as an amateur.

AAP


AAP




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