Zach Murray wins New Zealand Open by 2 shots
ARROWTOWN, New Zealand (AP) — Australian rookie Zach Murray staved off a challenge from compatriot Ashley Hall to complete an end-to-end win at the New Zealand Golf Open Sunday, claiming the centenary tournament by two shots.
Murray shot a final round 3-under 68 to finish with a 21-under total of 266, two shots clear of Hall and New Zealander Josh Geary.
The 21-year-old was the first player to lead a New Zealand Open through all four rounds since the great New Zealand left-hander Bob Charles won the tournament for the first time in 1954.
Hall, playing ahead of Murray who was the overnight leader by a shot, had three consecutive birdies between the 12 and 14th holes to move into a tie for the lead. But his charge ended when he bogeyed the 18th to finish with a final round of 6-under 65, 19-under for the tournament.
Murray, who turned pro in October, then played the 13th, 14th and 15th holes 4-under par with an eagle on the par-5 13th and two birdies to extend his lead to three shots.
He had had a three-shot buffer coming to the final hole and needed it as nerves took over. Murray rashly took a driver on the tight par-4 and struck his tee shot well wide of the fairway, behind the bleachers on the right-hand side.
Granted relief, he got a flier with his second which flew over the green and ended behind the gallery with a television tower between his lie and the flag.
But he flopped his third onto the green and two-putted for bogey, still enough to clinch his second professional win.
“I never thought I was going to get off the 18th,” Murray said. “I was pretty nervous.
“I sort of settled down there for a while except on the 18th tee. I tried to calm myself down but I got a flier on my second shot and didn’t really know what to think. But I’m glad it’s all done and dusted. It’s been a fantastic week.”