Raleigh's Murray cruises into North and South semifinals
Grayson Murray is on his third college in as many semesters.
He may have found a home at Pinehurst.
With the tournament’s top five seeds failing to advance past the round of 16 matches on Friday, the UNC Greensboro transfer emerged as the potential player to beat at the 113th North and South Amateur on Donald Ross’ famed Pinehurst No. 2, cruising through two matches with relative ease to reach the tournament’s semifinals.
Murray, who left Wake Forest after his first semester for East Carolina only to find it wasn’t the best fit for him either, will have to sit out a season before he can compete in NCAA play again.
But he’s certainly keeping himself busy. Coming off an appearance as one of just 10 amateurs to play in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, the 19-year-old Murray is now staking his claim to win this week on the course that will host the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014.
“I wish I could play a U.S. Open every three months,” said Murray. “It makes every other course look so easy. I feel like I could shoot low on every course I play right now.
“Even No. 2, it’s a U.S. Open course, and it’s not an easy course, but it doesn’t really look that hard to me right now. At Merion, I played the hardest course in the world at the time.”
Murray sure made the game look easy Friday.
In a morning and afternoon full of close matches, Murray was devastating on his opponents. After earning the No. 6 seed following a tie for fourth in three rounds of stroke play on Pinehurst No. 4, Murray never got to the 17th hole of No. 2, which played 7,342 yards to a par 70. Murray beat No. 11 seed Sam Love 4 and 3 in the morning before eliminating 14-seed Garrett King 4 and 2 in the afternoon.
“I just tried to make as many pars as I could today,” Murray said. “This course is tough. Pars are going to win a lot of holes.”
Murray has plenty of previous success at Pinehurst. He won the 2009 North and South Junior Championship at 15 years old – 10 years after PGA Tour star Hunter Mahan won the same crown.
“I’ve played No. 2 really well in tournaments over my junior years,” Murray said. “It’s a good course for me. It’s a ball-striker’s course. You have to hit a lot of greens.”
He’ll next face 17-year-old phenom Zachary Bauchou, who earned his way into the round of 16 after a playoff on Thursday. The No. 15 seed, Bauchou is one of the elite juniors in the nation and advanced to the semifinals after clipping Cleveland State’s Andrew Bailey 2 and 1 with a birdie putt from off the 18th green.
“The whole time today, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a golf course,’” said Bauchou, who last played No. 2 before the 2010 restoration as a U.S. Kids veteran. “I was just floored.”
The other semifinal will feature two other players who reached the top 16 via the “5-for-4 spots” stroke play playoff.
No. 16 seed Andrew Dorn, of Coastal Carolina, stunned top seed and medalist Adam Schenk of Purdue in 20 holes in the morning round before edging Virginia Tech’s Mikey Moyers in 20 more holes in the afternoon.
Dorn just wanted a chance in match play after surviving three rounds of stroke play on Pinehurst No. 4.
“We got to play a completely different course today, and it’s No. 2,” Dorn said. “And, it’s match play. Anything can happen.”
Duke recruit Max Greyserman, the first to punch his ticket out of the playoff after a birdie on the first sudden death hole Thursday, advanced as the 13 seed.
“I was pretty conservative in both matches today,” Greyserman said. “Unless my opponent is playing really well, I’ll probably keep the same gameplan.”
The championship is as wide open as it’s been in years. Schenk came into match play as perhaps the hottest amateur golfer in the nation, and led all players in total birdies after stroke play. Duke recruit and No. 2 seed Adam Wood fell in a match of dueling 17-year-olds when Bauchou won 3 and 2. And first-round leader and Canadian star Corey Conners, the third seed, was sent home after his opening match ended in 20 holes with 14th-seed King prevailing.
Local favorite Michael McGowan, the grandson of golf legend and 1949 North and South Women’s Amateur champion Peggy Kirk Bell, appeared to be cruising to the quarterfinals with a 3-up lead through 10, only to lose five of the last seven holes to Bailey to fall 2 and 1.
The North and South is the longest consecutive-running amateur golf championship in the United States.
113th North and South Amateur Championship
Pinehurst No. 2
Match play - Round of 16
No. 16 Andrew Dorn defeats No. 1 Adam Schenk, 20 holes
No. 9 Mickey Moyers defeats No. 8 Richard Fountain, 2&1
No. 13 Max Greyserman defeats No. 4 Jade Scott, 2&1
No. 12 Seth Reeves defeats No. 5 Ben Griffin, 2&1
No. 15 Zachary Bauchou defeats No. 2 Adam Wood, 3&2
No. 10 Andrew Bailey defeats No. 7 Michael McGowan, 2&1
No. 14 Garrett King defeats No. 3 Corey Conners, 20 holes
No. 6 Grayson Murray defeats No. 11 Sam Love, 4&3
No. 6 Grayson Murray defeats No. 14 Garrett King, 4 & 2
No. 16 Andrew Dorn defeats No. 9 Mikey Moyers, 20 holes
No. 15 Zachary Bauchou defeats No. 10 Andrew Bailey, 1 up
No. 13 Max Greyserman defeats No. 12 Seth Reeves 1 up
No. 13 Max Greyserman vs. No. 16 Andrew Dorn 8 a.m.
No. 6 Grayson Murray vs. No. 15 Zachary Bauchou 8:10 a.m.
Approx. 1 p.m.