Grayson Murray wins three-way playoff at Sony Open in Hawaii
Monstrous birdie putt makes the difference — and having sobered up over the past eight months
Grayson Murray made an improbable 38½-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole and defeated Byeong Hun An of South Korea and Keegan Bradley to win the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.
Murray, An and Bradley replayed the par-five 18th at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu to begin the playoff, and Murray’s drive hooked left and appeared to hit palm trees on its way down. But after he punched out into the fairway, he got on the green in three, while Bradley’s second shot sailed into the grandstand and required a drop.
An appeared to be the most likely victor when he chipped his third shot from the greenside rough to within four feet of the cup. But after Murray sank his long birdie try and Bradley missed a birdie, An’s putt to extend the playoff trickled past the hole.
“That tee shot on 18 is not a good tee shot for a fader with the wind off the left. Tug it off the tee in the playoff, and we each just had to lay up,” Murray said. “Didn’t hit my best wedge shot, but obviously I made the putt and was expecting both of them to make birdie, at least one of them.”
Murray shot a bogey-free, three-under 67 to force his way into the playoff at 17-under 263.
Murray, 30, stopped drinking alcohol last year in an effort to improve himself. He cited Chris Kirk as an inspiration after Kirk took time away from the tour to deal with mental health and addiction concerns.
“I would drink during tournament weeks. It was my outlet. I thought I was invincible coming out here as a 22-year-old, winning as a rookie, played three days hungover when I won,” Murray said. “Best thing and worst thing that ever happened to me was winning my rookie year but also feeling like I was invincible.
“It took me a long time to get to this point. That was seven years ago. I’m a different man now. I would not be in this position right now if I didn’t put that drink down eight months ago.”
Now the 2024 PGA Tour season has begun with Kirk and Murray winning the two Hawaii-based events. Kirk captured The Sentry, the season opener, last week on Maui.
An, who finished fourth at The Sentry last week, recovered from a bogey-birdie-bogey start to his final round by keeping a clean card the rest of the way. He made a 15-foot eagle putt at the par-five ninth and nearly had a similar result when playing the 18th in regulation.
An hit a 242-yard approach shot to 13½ feet from the pin. He two-putted for birdie to move to 17-under and tie Bradley for the lead.
“Golf is played in 72 holes. I made some silly mistakes out there [Saturday], [Sunday] and over the last four days, so it’s really — I’m not trying to blame on the last putts, but obviously it comes down to that,” An said. “But overall had a solid week. I feel like I played well all around.”
Bradley and Murray both missed the fairway with their drives at No 18 and both punched out. But Murray, who was one off the pace at the time, hit a tight third shot inside three feet and tapped in for birdie to join the leaders at 17-under. Bradley also got on in three but missed a 23½-foot birdie putt to win outright, leading to the playoff.
“It was a great week. I played great. I played good enough to win,” Bradley said. “But sometimes it’s just not quite good enough, and that was one of these weeks.”
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