Golf roundup: Grayson Murray wins playoff in Honolulu; Tommy Fleetwood tops Rory McIroy in Dubai

AP photo by Matt York / Grayson Murray celebrates after winning a three-man playoff at the PGA Tour's Sony Open on Sunday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
AP photo by Matt York / Grayson Murray celebrates after winning a three-man playoff at the PGA Tour's Sony Open on Sunday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

HONOLULU — Grayson Murray is a PGA Tour winner again and feels better than ever about his future.

The gold trophy he earned Sunday at the Sony Open with a 40-foot birdie putt in a three-man playoff is only a small reason for that.

Murray has been sober for eight months, tired of alcohol fueling his arrogance in public and making him feel like a failure for wasting talent in his private moments. He feels renewed through Christianity and is getting married in April to a woman who became a big part of a small support group.

No, winning didn't change his life. But it sure provided a big boost to his golf career.

"My story is not finished. I think it's just beginning," Murray said. "I hope I can inspire a lot of people going forward that have their own issues."

Murray always looked like the odd man out in the three-way battle at the end of the Sony Open until he delivered the goods.

His wedge shot into a breeze to a back pin to three feet gave him a birdie on the par-5 18th for a 3-under-par 67 and allowed him to join the playoff with Keegan Bradley and South Korea's Byeong Hun An. And then Murray buried a birdie putt from just inside 40 feet with An facing a four-foot birdie.

Bradley missed from 18 feet. An's short putt grazed the lip. Murray had another PGA Tour victory, with the other coming more than six years ago at an opposite-field event when he was a rookie. The timing couldn't be better.

Murray, who earned his way back to the PGA Tour with two wins on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour last year, now can bank on his first trip to the Masters in April and a spot in the seven remaining signature events on the schedle with their $20 million purses.

"I knew today was not going to change my life," he said. "But it did change my career."

As big as the win was for Murray, it was a tough loss for both An and Bradley.

An hit a 3-iron to just inside 15 feet on the 18th in regulation, the best shot of the day on Waialae Country Club's closing hole, then two-putted for a birdie and a closing 64 to be the first to post at 17-under 263. In the playoff, he hit a superb pitch from the thick collar below the green to four feet, only to miss.

"Just a poor putt and poor read at the end which could have happened on any holes during 73 holes," An said. "It's a shame it ended that way. It hurts, but what are you going to do?"

Bradley broke away from a five-way tie for the lead with a 20-foot birdie on the 15th, but he had to settle for pars the rest of the way. He missed the fairway on the 18th and had to lay up, hitting a pedestrian wedge to 20 feet. The winning putt in regulation narrowly missed.

In the playoff, he was in the best position in the fairway. But he pulled his fairway metal into the grandstand, chipped to only 18 feet and missed after Murray had made birdie.

"I played good enough to win. But sometimes it's just not quite good enough, and that was one of these weeks," said Bradley, who called it one of the toughest losses of his career.

All four Baylor School golfers on the PGA Tour made the cut to stick around for the weekend, but they were scattered through the leaderboard Sunday. Harris English had the highest finish, closing with a 64 to tie for 10th at 13 under, with Stephan Jaeger (68) two shots further back and tied for 18th, Keith Mitchell (67) tied for 30th at 9 under and Luke List (69) tied for 66th at 4 under.

Murray, who earned $1,494,000, moves into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time and has reason to believe the path leads only higher.

He ran into trouble with PGA Tour discipline three years ago in Honolulu. He later took to social media to criticize the tour for not helping him with his drinking. There also was a social media spat with Kevin Na when Murray poked fun at Na's pace of play.

He was angry and his career was going nowhere. The winner's lei around his neck Sunday offered a sweet smell and provided a moment to reflect even in the immediacy of victory.

"It's not easy, you know?" he said. "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. When you get tired of fighting, let someone fight for you.

"My life is so good right now. I wouldn't trade anything. Everyone in my life right now who is close to me who has been through the struggles with me. All of them are part of this. I think this is just the start of something really special."

Carl Yuan and Russell Henley each closed with a 63 and had their chances.

Henley was at 17 under until he pulled his tee shot left on the 16th, made a strong recovery but ultimately missed a four-foot par putt. On the closing par 5, his drive went into such a deep lie in the rough he had no chance to get near the green and missed a 10-foot birdie chance.

Yuan made his mistake on the par-3 17th, missing the green left and missing a four-foot par putt to fall out of the lead. And he appeared to get a break on the 18th when his second shot sailed into the hospitality area.

The ball was never found, but officials interviewed spectators and determined with "virtual certainty" it was in a large part of a compound that included tents and restrooms and other structures. He got a free drop and escaped with a par.

J.T. Poston finished alone in sixth with the round of the week. He closed with a 61 and was among seven players who had a share of the lead at one point.

  photo  AP photo by Kamran Jebreili / Tommy Fleetwood holds his trophy after winning the DP World Tour's Dubai Invitational on Sunday. It's his first win since November 2022.
 
 

DP World Tour: Fleetwood wins duel with McIlroy

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tommy Fleetwood benefited from two huge errors on the back nine by Rory McIlroy, but the 32-year-old Englishman produced his own strong finish to win the DP World Tour's Dubai Invitational after a back-and-forth duel in the final round.

McIlroy, the 34-year-old four-time major winner from Northern Ireland, had already three-putted from two feet at No. 14 by the time he reached the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over Fleetwood and pulled his drive into the water.

Fleetwood followed that by driving into the middle of the fairway and sent his approach to 16 feet, well inside McIlroy after the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking had to take a drop.

McIlroy missed his winding putt up the hill, and Fleetwood made his own to close out a 4-under 67 and finish at 19-under 265 in the 72-hole event, securing his seventh career win on the Europe-based circuit but first since the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2022.

He was a stroke clear of McIlroy (67), who tied for second with South Africa's Thriston Lawrence (64) in the first DP World Tour event of the year.

"First week back out, I think you're going to expect some of those sloppy mistakes," McIlroy said, "and unfortunately for me, those mistakes came at the wrong time today."

McIlroy smiled and gave Fleetwood a big hug on the 18th green after missing out on what would have been his first victory since the Scottish Open in July. They are close friends and were playing partners for Europe at the Ryder Cup last year.

"It's always very special when you play with one of your friends, one of the best players in the world, challenging yourself against those guys," the 15th-ranked Fleetwood said. "Rory's been a very, very supportive influence on me over the past ... I've watched him do amazing things down the stretch in golf tournaments, and today was my turn."

McIlroy started the day a stroke behind Fleetwood and was three back after the 10th hole, but four birdies in a five-hole stretch — on either side of that unfathomable three-putt on the par-3 14th — put him in a tie with Fleetwood.

After a sloppy bogey at No. 16, Fleetwood holed a birdie putt from 30 feet at the 17th to stay within one shot of McIlroy and then capitalized on his playing partner's worst swing of the day on the 18th tee.

"I've had plenty of times where somebody has finished well against me when I've not quite done enough, and today was my turn to walk through the door today. It was just one of those things," said Fleetwood, who lives in Dubai.

"You learn every time you play. Good, bad, whatever it is, you always should learn every time you play. The more you put yourself in these positions, you keep figuring out who you want to be as a player when you're out there, what attitude you want to have, how you want to play and just work toward that, and today was a good day for me."

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