Grayson Murray sank a 38-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win a three-man playoff on Sunday at the Sony Open.
The 30-year-old American, who battled back from alcohol abuse and mental issues, beat countryman Keegan Bradley and South Korean An Byeong-hun to capture his second career PGA Tour title.
Murray, who claimed his only prior Tour title at the 2017 Barbasol Championship as a Tour rookie, made his fightback after a 2022 motor scooter accident in Bermuda.
“A lot of hard work pays off,” he said moments after the victory. “It’s not easy. I wanted to give up a lot of times – give up on myself, give up on the game of golf, give up on life at times.”
His advice to others facing hardships was simple.
“Just persevere,” Murray said. “And when you get tired of fighting, let someone else fight for you. And that’s what happened.”
An, Murray and Bradley all ended a back-nine shootout on 17-under 263 after 72 holes at Waialae in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I hate it for Keegan and Ben. They played awesome golf,” Murray said. “Sometimes it’s just tough to be in a playoff when it’s sudden death and only one person can win.”
China’s Carl Yuan fired a 63 to share fourth on 16-under 264 with American Russell Henley and American JT Poston was sixth on 15-under 265 after a closing 61.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen finished T52 on seven-under 273 after a final-round 69, with countryman Garrick Higgo languishing in T80 on two-over 282 despite carding 68.
Murray qualified for PGA Tour signature events and his first trip to The Masters.
“Today wasn’t going to change my life,” Murray said. “But it did change my career a little bit and I’m excited.”
The life changes got him into the position for the victory, Murray said.
“I hope everyone at home watching can get a little inspiration from me. If I can help one person, that’s all it takes.”
Murray cited the courage he found to risk making changes in his life.
“Change is difficult because it’s unknown. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if it’s going to pay off,” he said.
“I hope people can see the change Ive made in my personal life. I want to be known as a good person going forward.”
After multiple five-way ties for the lead down the stretch, Bradley seized the lead alone by sinking a 21-foot birdie putt at the par-four 15th to reach 17 under.
At the par-five 18th, An missed an eagle putt from just beyond 13 feet but tapped in for birdie to match Bradley for the lead.
Murray dropped his approach at 18 within three feet and tapped in for birdie to reach the playoff while Henley missed a 23-foot birdie putt at 18 for the victory.
The playoff was a return to 18, where Bradley hit a 5-wood into the left grandstands with his second shot. An was in greenside rough to the right and Murray was short in the fairway.
After Murray left himself a 38-foot birdie putt and Bradley left himself 17 feet for birdie, An pitched to just outside four feet and seemed to have the advantage.
But Murray rolled in his amazing putt, his rivals missed and Murray had an emotional triumph.
“That was just a perfect stroke,” Murray said. “Sometimes you just get lucky.”
Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, missed out on his seventh PGA Tour title while An, still seeking his first PGA Tour title after 182 starts, settled for a fifth career runner-up spot.
“I hung in there, finished up pretty good at the end,” An said. “It feels pretty disappointing. It came down to the last putt. Overall, I had a solid week. It’s very disappointing how I finished but it’s looking good so far.”
© Agence France-Presse