While snow and frigid temperatures blanketed much of the continental United States this weekend, the PGA Tour was in Honolulu for the Sony Open. With temperatures in the mid-70s, the competition for the title between Grayson Murray, Keegan Bradley and Byeong Hun An was even hotter.
The three needed a playoff to determine a champion after all shot a 3-under 67, and thanks to a clutch birdie putt from 39 feet, Murray emerged victorious. Bradley and An each missed birdie putts to give Murray the win.
39 FEET FOR THE WIN!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 15, 2024
Following his second-ever PGA Tour win (the first coming at the Barbasol Championship as a rookie in 2017), the 30-year-old reflected on his journey.
“A lot of hard work pays off,” he told NBC on the green afterward. “It’s not easy, you know? 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.”
Murray’s struggles with alcoholism, depression and anxiety have been documented for years. Three years ago, at the very same tournament in the very same city where he won on Sunday, Murray was involved in an incident at a hotel bar that resulted in the PGA Tour placing him on probation.
He gained a reputation for alcohol-fueled social media rants directed at the Tour itself, as well as at other players, and in the fall of 2022, he plowed his scooter into oncoming traffic.
In a last-ditch effort to save his career and his life, Murray entered rehab. Thanks to God’s healing in the one-month rehab stint and provision in a strong support system around him, Murray has now been sober for eight months.
When NBC asked about his Sony Open championship in light of his past, he pointed to Christ, Who redeems all things.
“Jesus Christ is first and foremost,” Murray said. “Without Him, none of this would be possible. He’s just given me a platform to write a new story, write my own story. I hope everyone at home watching can get a little inspiration from me. If I just help one person, that’s all it takes.”
He continued later: “I knew today was not gonna change my life. My fiancée (Christiana) changed my life. Jesus Christ changed my life. Today wasn’t gonna change my life, but it did change my career a little bit.”
“Jesus Christ is first and foremost.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) January 15, 2024
Thanks to his win at the Sony Open, Murray can now bank on being a participant in all of the PGA Tour’s remaining signature events this year, including his first trip to the Masters in April. Yet that won’t be the biggest event in Murray’s life that month; he and Christiana are also set to be married on April 27 near his childhood home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Christiana has been an integral part of Murray’s support system. She has helped him in his recovery, his return to the PGA Tour after some time on the lower-level Korn Ferry Tour, and most importantly, his growing faith in Christ. According to Murray, she even prayed with him before Sunday’s playoff.
“We just said a prayer,” Murray explained in his press conference after the Sony Open. “We said a prayer that the good Lord is looking over us, and no matter what the outcome was going to be, it wasn’t going to be life changing. Me and her are still a son and daughter to Jesus Christ, and that’s never going to change.”
Murray admitted that, in his younger years, he would sometimes drink during tournament weeks. He even won the Barbasol Championship while hung over each day. The early success made him feel invincible, which contributed to his spiral. Ultimately, he said in his press conference, it was God who protected him and led him to rehab, where he received the help he needed.
“The Lord was looking out for me then, and He’s definitely looking out for me now,” he said. “My story is not finished. I think it’s just beginning. I hope I can inspire a lot of people going forward that have their own issues. …
“I grew up going to church, and my family, they’re strong Christians. I think I neglected that part of my life for a while, and meeting my fiancée and how our lives kind of changed over the last three years, she’s devoted her life to Christ, and I’ve devoted my life to Christ. That’s what’s going to be first in our relationship going forward.”
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