WODONGA’S Zach Murray has recorded the biggest win of his career with a four-shot victory at the Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship.
The Catholic College Wodonga student, 16, held at bay the strongest juniors in the country to book a spot on the Australian team that will head to China to play in the final of the competition against the best in the world.
Franking the depth of junior talent on the Border was Yarrawonga’s Frazer Droop who finished third and will also represent his country at the Lion Lake Country Club.
Murray fired a three-under, two round total of 141, four shots clear of his nearest rival at the tough Heritage layout in Melbourne.
Droop, also 16, finished five shots back in third.
The finish gives the pair automatic exemption into the Open Chinese amateur a week later.
The brainchild of Australian US PGA player Aaron Baddeley, the international also carries significant world amateur ranking points and provides double points on the national rankings.
Before the weekend Droop sat sixth, Murray up to 10th from 48th at the start of the year.
Both are expected to be well inside the top-10 in the country when the national rankings are updated.
Murray yesterday admitted to battling nerves down the 18th despite his four-shot lead.
“I had a mate there watching and told him I was feeling the nerves and he turned to me and said ‘you should be, this is the biggest tournament win of your career’,” he said.
“Nearly all of the top juniors in the country were there so it was by far the strongest field I’ve beaten.
“The course suits my eye but my driving was great — I think I only missed four fairways over the two days in what were pretty tough conditions with the course set-up and the wind.”
Murray said it was amazing that the North East has two of the four in the national team.
“But Frazer has been playing great too — I think in the last four tournaments we have been at one or the other has won,” he said.
It will be the second time in three months that Murray has represented his country.
Earlier in the year he was selected to play at the junior Players at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
“The course in China won’t be as long as TPC but the weather is likely to be similar with 30 degrees and humidity,” Murray said.
“But I have the benefit of that trip to Florida now so I’m not wasting time with research about what to expect, how it all unfolds.
“Both last weekend and that tournament carry world ranking points and I need to get into the top 400 in the world to be a chance of playing the US juniors next year.”
Baddeley International organiser Ron Baddeley said the China event was in the world’s top two.
“Probably only behind the Callaway tournament in San Diego,” he said.
“But both the boys from up there are really something special — they’ve risen to the top in the past 12 months and hopefully we can help launch their career too.
“We treat this like a professional tournament — two days of practice, a sponsors day and then 72 holes of tournament golf.”
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