Grayson Murray wins Simmons Bank Open, secures PGA TOUR status for 2024
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
COLLEGE GROVE, Tennessee – Grayson Murray trusts his talent. It’s an attitude that he feels has kept him from realizing his career potential.
After a session with fear management instructor Tony Blauer earlier this month, Murray’s attitude was rock-solid amidst demanding conditions at this week’s Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation. It led to his third career Korn Ferry Tour title, as Murray carded 17-under 271 at The Grove for a three-stroke victory over Mason Andersen, Jamie Lovemark and his high school golf teammate Carter Jenkins.
The victory cements Murray’s spot in the top 30 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, finalized after next month’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, improving his PGA TOUR status for the 2024 season. Murray also jumps 20 spots to No. 6 on the Points List and will have a chance at the No. 1 spot across the next two events, which provides fully exempt TOUR status in 2024 and secures eligibility for THE PLAYERS Championship and the U.S. Open – contested at Pinehurst No. 2 in his home state of North Carolina.
Grayson Murray goes flag hunting to yield birdie at Simmons Bank Open
“This is what we live for,” Murray said as he processed his victory at The Grove. “I didn’t see myself in this position, but you can always work hard and follow your goals, and that’s what I did. It’s just a testament to a lot of hard work.
“I think the pedal still needs to be down. You can’t let your guard down in this game, ever. You’ve got to ride it while you’re hot, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
There’s plenty for Murray to look forward to, and the wily veteran did it with controlled play for 72 holes at The Grove.
One rare exception was a double bogey at the par-4 16th hole in Saturday’s third round, but he remained calm and finished par-birdie to stay within one stroke of the lead into the final round. Then he made seven birdies in his final 12 holes Sunday to pull away from the field, carding a final-round, 6-under 66 to rubber-stamp his victory in Music City. He finished with a flourish too, draining long-range birdies from outside 20 feet on Nos. 17 and 18.
Murray also won the AdventHealth Championship in Kansas City earlier this year, snapping a nearly six-year victory drought in TOUR-sanctioned competition. He spoke at the time of the game’s humbling nature, rededicating himself in the gym and building his mental game.
As he approaches 30 years old, Murray admitted Sunday that he had a personal heart-to-heart in recent months, challenging himself to maximize his potential in professional golf. He has described his raw talent as “9 out of 10,” but his mental game strayed to a “1 out of 10” at times throughout his career.
Murray was locked in throughout the week in Music City, and now he joins Chan Kim, Ben Kohles and Pierceson Coody as two-time Korn Ferry Tour winners this season. After signing his card, he was greeted in the locker room by fellow North Carolina native Kohles, who welcomed him to the multi-winner club this season.
They’re all chasing a third victory of the season, which would provide automatic PGA TOUR status for the remainder of the FedExCup Fall. The quartet will all graduate to the 2024 PGA TOUR regardless.
Murray looks forward to building on this year’s success as he returns to the TOUR, on which he won the 2017 Barbasol Championship. At the time, the sky appeared the limit for the former amateur phenom, but he struggled at times and fell back to past champion status this season.
Murray has recorded three top-25s in 12 TOUR starts this season, including back-to-back top-10s at the John Deere Classic and Barbasol Championship in July. His game was rounding into form, and recent mental work pushed him perhaps to another level.
Now he’s in the mix for the Korn Ferry Tour’s season-long top spot, in a campaign where he has split time between the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour, making 12 starts to date on each circuit.
“We play a sport where we lose more than we win, but it’s the losses you learn from and get better at,” Murray said. “I want to soak this win in as much as possible, but I want to get back to business as well, because this feeling is unlike any other.
“If my game is a 9/10, my mental game is a 1/10 for my whole career really. That’s what’s kept me from being the player that I could have been. Coming off (the Korn Ferry Tour) back in 2016, sheer talent got kind of … I got away from it for a little while. I turn 30 in less than a month, and I just kind of had a hard talk to myself and realized that I’m getting a second chance. Luckily, we play a game where we can have our careers into our 50s, so 30 is still young. I feel like I have a lot of good golf ahead of me.”
• Three of the last four Korn Ferry Tour events were won by three strokes; there was only one event decided by three-plus strokes in the first 20 events of the season (Rhein Gibson/Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard/won by four strokes)
• Grayson Murray (1st/-17) birdies four of the final five holes and becomes the second winner this season to finish with back-to-back birdies (Roger Sloan/Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank/birdie-birdie finish and won by one stroke)
• Murray joins Pierceson Coody, Chan Kim, and Ben Kohles (two wins apiece) as the fourth multi-time winner on Tour this season
• Carter Jenkins (T2/-14) birdies the 72nd hole for a career-high finish which moves him from No. 46 to No. 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List; his previous career-high finish in 33 previous starts on Tour was T5/2023 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX, and he entered the 2023 season without a top-10 in any of his 14 career starts on Tour
• Chris Gotterup (T5/-13) rises from No. 33 to No. 24 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List with his 13th top-25 of the season; his only previous week in the top 30 was following the AdventHealth Championship, when he stood 28th
• Gotterup plays his final 13 holes in 5-under par en route to his third top-10 of the season – all of which are top-five finishes (T5/LECOM Suncoast Classic; 4th/NV5 Invitational presented by Old National Bank)
• Jenkins and Gotterup knocked Cody Blick (No. 29 down to No. 31) and Brett Drewitt (No. 30 down to No. 32) out of the top 30 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List
• Ben Kohles (T5/-13) logs his seventh top-10 of the season (and third in a row) to strengthen his hold on the No. 1 position on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List, increasing his lead over No. 2 Chan Kim (T44/-5) to 233 points
• Rookie Mason Andersen (T2/-14), one of eight players who earned membership for 2023 by advancing through each stage of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament (beginning with pre-qualifying), posts a career-high finish and his third top-10 of the season
• Two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner Jamie Lovemark (T2/-14) records his highest finish on the Korn Ferry Tour since April 2021 (T2/2021 MGM Resorts Championship at Paiute) to climb 60 spots on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List
• Four players who began the week outside the top 120 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List moved into the top 120 Sunday afternoon, thus securing spots in the field for next week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the third event of the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Final
- Jamie Lovemark (T2/-14) – Began No. 130 à Rose to No. 70
- Chris Naegel (T5/-13) – Began No. 121 à Rose to No. 91
- Spencer Ralston (T12/-11) – Began No. 135 à Rose to No. 118
- A.J. Crouch (T22/-9) – Began No. 126 à Rose to No. 116
• Cooper Musselman (T16/-10) ties the low round of the day with a bogey-free 7-under 65 (Norman Xiong), highlighted by birdies on four of his final six holes (par-4 fourth, sixth, eighth, and par-5 seventh), to rise from No. 137 to No. 122 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, which makes Musselman the last man into the field for next week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship (No. 100 Andrew Kozan, No. 115 Akshay Bhatia withdrew prior to the deadline)
• Lovemark and Pontus Nyholm (T5/-13) were the only players who began the week outside the top 75 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List and moved into the top 75 with their finish this week; they knocked out Daniel Summerhays (No. 73 down to No. 78) and Patrick Welch (No. 75 down to No. 79)
• Nyholm, who began the week No. 79 and rose to No. 66, overcame a triple-bogey six at the par-3 third to log his second top-10 in his 48th career start on the Korn Ferry Tour (T2/2022 Veritex Bank Championship)
• Chris Naegel (T5/-13) records his first top-10 since a solo-fourth at the 2019 WinCo Foods Portland Open, in addition to recording his fourth consecutive top-25; his previous single-season personal record for top-25s was three in both 2016 and 2019
• Spencer Ralston (T12/-11), who entered the week with 16 missed cuts in 21 starts this season, closes with a bogey-free 4-under 32 on the back nine to post his third top-25 of the season, as well as his highest finish on Tour since consecutive top-10s in May and June 2022 (T5/2022 NV5 Invitational presented by Old National Bank; T10/2022 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH)
• A.J. Crouch (T22/-9), who finished No. 73 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List, cards bogey-free 3-under 33 on the back nine to record his second top-25 of the season (T15/UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH) and his third top-30 finish in his last five starts