Golf: Rookie Grayson Murray lands first PGA title at Barbasol

Grayson Murray of the United States plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Barbasol Championship at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National on July 23, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.
Grayson Murray of the United States plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Barbasol Championship at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National on July 23, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Washington (AFP) - Grayson Murray, a 23-year-old American rookie, fired a three-under par 68 on Sunday to win the Barbasol Championship, edging compatriot Chad Collins by a stroke for his first PGA title.

Murray, who missed the cut in nine of his prior 23 Tour starts, sank a tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th hole for his margin of victory at the Robert Trent Jones Grand National layout in Auburn, Alabama.

"I was in control. I didn't get out of my game plan once," Murray said, calling his tee shots "the best I've ever driven it in my life".

Murray took the US$630,000 (S$857,000) top prize after finishing 72 holes on 21-under par 263 with Collins second on 264 and Brian Gay, Tag Ridings and Scott Stallings next in an all-US top 10 on 265.

The event, played opposite the British Open at Royal Birkdale, featured players largely fighting to reach the top-125 PGA points list and qualify for the season-ending play-offs that begin next month.

World No. 156 Murray ranked 124th in the PGA play-off chase before this week but jumped into the top 60 with the triumph.

"To get into the play-offs, that was my goal this year," Murray said. "I didn't set my goals too high for my first year."

Six players were in the hunt down the final holes, but Murray endured down the stretch after a bogey-birdie start and closing the front nine with birdies at seven and nine around a bogey at the eighth.

Murray eagled the par-5 13th, dropping his second shot four feet from the cup and making the putt, but found a fairway bunker off the 14th tee and made bogey, setting up the birdie at 16 that proved the difference.

While booking a spot at next month's PGA Championship, Murray did not claim a berth in next year's Masters, with PGA winners in events opposite Majors or World Golf Championship events not earning an automatic berth at Augusta National.

Stallings, seeking his fourth career PGA title and first since 2014, began the day with a one-stroke edge on Murray atop the leaderboard, but fired a 71.

He fell back with a three-putt bogey at the par-5 13th, stayed within reach with a six-foot birdie at 16, but needing a birdie at 18 to match Murray, his tee shot went far right beyond a cart path and required three shots to make the green at the par-4 18th to doom his hopes.