RALEIGH, N.C. -- Midway through the Monday afternoon U.S. Open qualifier— otherwise known as "Golf's Longest Day" — former Leesville Road High School golfer Grayson Murray double-bogeyed the par-5 13th hole (his 22nd of his 36-hole qualifier at Hawks Ridge outside Atlanta, Ga.) to drop to 1 under overall and seemingly out of contention. "It's not the end of the world if I don't qualify," Murray told his caddie. "I'm 19 years old. I have so many years to do this and it's such a good experience for me. It's a win-lose situation — you either make it or you don't."
Pressure removed, Murray then entered the zone, playing his final 13 holes in 8 under par capped by an eagle on the par-5 seventh and an 8-foot birdie on No. 9, his final hole of the day, which propelled Murray into third place at 9-under 135 — one shot past 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links winner T.J. Vogel — and into the final available U.S. Open spot. Murray will tee it up in his first PGA TOUR event starting Thursday at famed Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia.
In 2008, Murray was selected as one of five original McConnell Golf Junior Scholarship recipients. The MCG Junior Scholarship is an innovative program designed to offer instruction, practice and playing opportunities to young golfers that may not have the financial ability to work on their games at first-class facilities. Certain criteria needing to be met, Murray was selected based on his level of talent, need, and commitment to the sport — as well as his proven dedication and value to the future of golf.
"This is one of the most exciting and rewarding programs in which we've been involved," said McConnell Golf Founder and CEO John McConnell. "Our company is committed to amateur and junior golf. Some of the best junior golfers do not have access to practice facilities and good courses. Our goal is to provide this access and supervision in hopes of helping these talented young players move to the next level of play, and possibly allow them to elevate to the point where golf can become a means of helping them receive financial assistance for higher education and even play beyond the collegiate level."
In 2010, Murray, then 16, became the second-youngest player to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event when he played the weekend at the Rex Hospital Open, at another McConnell Golf property, TPC at Wakefield Plantation. A fellow McConnell Golf Scholar, Carter Jenkins (2010 Raleigh recipient) similarly excelled in his game and played in the Rex Hospital Open the past two years.
Jenkins will be attending UNC-Greensboro in the fall of 2013, while his Leesville High School teammate Zach Seabolt, a rising senior, was Conference Player of the Year in 2012. The previous year, Murray, Jenkins, Seabolt and 2008 Raleigh recipient Larry Han, led Leesville High School to its first state championship, defeating Myers Park by four shots at Pinehurst No. 6.
They are among numerous McConnell Golf Scholarship success stories:
• Ryan Nagy, a 2010 Raleigh recipient, is a junior at UNC-Wilmington, which has won three consecutive Colonial Athletic Association's conference championships.
• Drew Johnson, a 2010 Sedgefield recipient, recently shot 64 to win the Piedmont Conference Championship and earned the conference stroke title for the third straight year. He will be attending Virginia Tech this fall.
• Meghan Moore, a 2008 Treyburn recipient, plays for UNC-Pembroke and finished second place individually in the 2012 Division II National Championships.
• Stephen Lavenets, 2011 Treyburn recipient, is freshman at East Carolina and played in nine tournaments this season. He was a two-time conference player of the year while playing at Northern Durham high school.
• Brian Denton, a 2008 Raleigh recipient, finished a stellar career at Wingate University this spring by being named to the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) All-Conference team after his junior and senior seasons.
"I am very proud of this program that started in 2008 and seeing how well all the juniors have developed and matured both on and of the golf course," said McConnell Golf Vice President of Golf Operations Brian Kittler. "These juniors were all talented and accomplished golfers when they entered the program but having access to our courses, instruction and practice facilities; they were able to take their game to the next level.
"The proof for us is how well their games have transitioned from high school into college. It is hard to believe several juniors from our inaugural class are graduating college this spring. We are very proud of their accomplishments and hope our program opened doors for them that will lead to very successful careers after college."
ABOUT MCCONNELL GOLF
McConnell Golf's mission during its first decade of existence has been to offer all areas of the Carolinas some of the finest private golf and country clubs. McConnell Golf offers pure golf for the true golfer as a privately held company offering unlimited access to world-class facilities and golf courses designed by legends Donald Ross, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and Hale Irwin. Founded in 2003, McConnell Golf provides members a quality golf experience among 153 holes of championship golf at seven clubs: Raleigh Country Club in Raleigh, N.C.; Treyburn Country Club in Durham, N.C.; Old North State Club at Badin Lake, N.C.; Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, S.C.; The Reserve Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C.; Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C; and Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, N.C. All clubs are maintained and serviced to the highest standards with an emphasis on true golf, complete service and absolute quality. McConnell Golf offers individual club memberships, as well as innovative corporate and national/international memberships that deliver unmatched access to the top courses in the Carolinas. www.McConnellGolf.com
Martin Armes (919) 608-7260, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad King (336) 306-9219, email@example.com