21 Feb 2020 | Professional golf |

Ailing Murray shows right amount of guts

by Mark Hayes

Zach Murray chips during his even-par round to start his WGC career in Mexico today.
Zach Murray chips during his even-par round to start his WGC career in Mexico today.

There’s an Australian name within reach of world No.1 Rory McIlroy after round one of the WGC Mexico – it’s just not who you might have thought it would be.

Among five other countrymen, four of whom have had an international win in the past month, Victorian Zach Murray is the best placed Aussie after day one.

Playing in his first WGC event, Murray kept his nerves – and the contents of his stomach – in their rightful place to shoot an even-par 71, five back from runaway leader McIlroy in the big-money, no-cut event in Mexico City.

It has him in front of fellow Aussies Scott Hend (72), Cam Smith (73), Marc Leishman (74), Adam Scott (74) and Lucas Herbert (75).

But after a bout of food poisoning that has swept through parts of the tournament, Murray’s feat was arguably even more impressive.

“It hit me pretty hard on Tuesday (local time), so I didn’t really get any practice in on Wednesday, so I was pretty happy with how it worked out today,” said Murray, who isn’t fazed by playing among world golf’s elite for the first time.

“I’m playing pretty nice golf at the moment … so it’d be pretty good to chase ‘em down if I get the chance.

“I’m pretty excited, there are some opportunities out there, but it’s a pretty tough course, so I was pretty stoked to finish with a couple of birdies on the last couple and sneak up a bit.”

That “sneak” amounted to a T19 position after holing out from greenside rough on the eighth (his 17th) and then drilling a sand wedge in close on the ninth to return to square with the card.

Murray, a Golf Australia rookie squad member from Wodonga and a member at Commonwealth, said he would continue to try to save his energy after he had some “unpleasant” moments earlier in the week, but that he was upbeat about his prospects.

“I truly believe the old adage of `beware the sick golfer’,” he said.

“It almost allows your natural ability to flare because all you’re thinking about is getting around and keeping yourself nice.

“I know a few boys are struggling to keep it all together, so I was happy to stay tidy out there today.”

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