Teen to see where game stacks up with pros

May 18, 2010
John Dell, Nationwide Tour Insider

The line of hot-shot junior golfers from the Raleigh, N.C., area is a long one.

From Scott Hoch to Webb Simpson, the talent level has been very good. You can add Grayson Murray to that list, who at age 16, qualified for the Rex Hospital Open this week thanks to winning the Rex Hospital Junior Invitational over the weekend. He shot 69-67 to win by one to earn a spot into the Nationwide Tour event.

Youngest to play on the Nationwide Tour:
Michelle Wie (13 years, 11 months, 7 days; 2003 Albertsons Boise Open)
Gregory LaVoie (15 years, 8 months, 2 days; 1999 Tri-Cities Open)
Gipper Finau (16 years, 19 days; 2006 Utah EnergySolutions Championship)
Nicholas Reach (16 years, 3 months, 9 days; 2008 Northeast Pennsylvania Classic)
Grayson Murray (16 years, 7 months, 19 days; 2010 Rex Hospital Classic)
Tadd Fijikawa (16 years, 8 months, 13 days; 2007 Albertsons Boise Open)
Sean Harlingten (16 years, 9 months, 13 days; 2003 Mark Christopher Charity Classic)
Tadd Fujikawa (16 years, 9 months, 18 days; 2007 Miccosukee Championship)
Andrew Knox (16 years, 10 months, 28 days; 2009 Rex Hospital Classic)

Murray, who is a sophomore at Leesville Road High School, has already committed to play at Wake Forest. He will follow in the footsteps of Hoch and Simpson, both former Deacon All-Americans.

For Murray, who won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's 4-A title last week, it's a chance to see how his game stacks up against the pros in the Rex Hospital Open.

Murray is the state's No. 1-ranked junior by the Carolinas Golf Association, and is the highest-ranked 16-year-old in the country according to Golfweek. Murray is ranked 16th overall by Golfweek in its junior rankings.

Murray shares the same golf instructor as Simpson, Ted Kiegiel, who is the head pro at Carolina Country Club.

Murray said he has always looked up to Simpson, who is in his second season on the PGA TOUR.

Earlier this year Murray said he had always wanted to play at Wake Forest.

"Ever since I was about 7, I wanted to go to Wake," said Murray, who also admitted to being a University of North Carolina basketball fan.

He met Arnold Palmer, a former Wake Forest star, when he was 9.

"I don't remember much about the meeting," he said. "I do remember how cool it was to shake Mr. Palmer's hand."

John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 16 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR