3 Mar 2019

Murray snares first pro title at NZ Open

7:23 pm on 3 March 2019

Adversity has been Zach Murray's most important ally, with the young Australian golfer surging home to clinch a maiden win as a professional at the New Zealand Open.

Zach Murray

Zach Murray Photo: Photosport

Murray showed fighting qualities and a maturity that belied his tender age of 21, securing a wire-to-wire triumph at The Hills course near Queenstown by two shots over compatriot Ashley Hall and New Zealander Josh Geary.

As he did in the third round, Murray unleashed his best golf on Sunday after losing the lead, shooting an eagle on the par-5 13th to launch an unstoppable charge for victory at the tournament's 100th edition.

Murray closed with a four-under-par 68 to finish on 21-under.

Asian Tour money leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand shot a round-of-the-day 64 to place fourth.

However, the tournament belonged to Murray, who began the summer with victory at October's WA Open, weeks before switching to the pro ranks.

It all came easily in the first two rounds in Queenstown, Murray opening up a five-stroke advantage after carding 63 and 65.

Geary claimed the lead midway through day three but Murray recovered his poise with late birdies and he repeated the dose when Hall charged to the top of the leaderboard during a closing 65.

Trailing Hall by two shots after carding a bogey on the 11th, Murray picked up four shots from holes 13 to 15.

Three-time pro winner Hall, 35, couldn't respond. His previously flawless round faltered with a bogey on the 18th, handing his compatriot a three-stroke buffer.

Murray admitted his composure deserted him for the first time when he also bogeyed the final hole.

Adrenaline was pumping as he hit wild first and second shots before a sublime chip from a difficult position.

"I was pretty nervous. I settled down there for a while but, as soon as I stepped onto the 18th tee, I tried to calm myself down."

Geary produced a mixed bag in his 3-under final round 69, his five birdies and an eagle - also at the 13th - offset by four bogeys, including three in the front nine.

Steven Alker was the next best New Zealander, firing a 7-under 65 to share eighth place with Japan's Kodai Ichihara and New Zealand's Harry Bateman at 16-under for the tournament.

Ryan Fox's final round 67 left him a shot further back in a share of 11th.