ZACH Murray is one of Australia’s rising golf stars, says Golf Australia.
Last week the Wodonga golfer, who turned 17 at the weekend, was added to a national squad whose alumni includes Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Karrie Webb.
Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said Murray’s dramatic improvement in the past two years had seen him emerge as a star of the future.
In the squad that now numbers six, three will play majors in the next fortnight — Oliver Goss in the Masters, Minjee Lee and Sue Oh this week in the Kraft Nabisco.
Murray was added to the group along with Western Australia’s Curtis Luck and NSW’s Shelly Shi.
The Catholic College Wodonga student admitted he had thought his chances of being part of the select squad had passed.
“This has been a goal for some time and after winning in China and then winning the Victorian Amateur I thought I had a real shot,” he said.
“But it didn’t happen and I just went back to working at my game and forgot all about it.
“I was on the golf course last week when I got the call — I didn’t know it was coming but all I could do was smile after that.
“It means the best coaching and support, they help with the playing calendar both nationally and internationally, provide direction.”
Murray said the recent success of Australians on the US PGA tour was an added incentive.
“I was watching the scores come through this morning and when Bowditch won I just wanted to go out and play,” he said.
“Hopefully it inspires others to do the same.”
James said having athletes join the squad at a younger age was a priority for the program.
“With Curtis 17, Zach 16 and Shelly 15 this provides a great opportunity to help these players grow their games to a level where they will be able to compete internationally in the future,” he said.
“We saw Zach hitting golf balls at a camp two years ago and recognised he was a good golfer but his development had been outstanding.
“He certainly has the physical attributes and we watched him again when he won the Victorian Amateur in December and then at the Australian Amateur and everyone was impressed by his emotional control under pressure.
“We can take these players into our program at a young age and help them develop — Minjee Lee joined us when she was just 13.
“It means priority access to tournaments and that will mean the US Junior Open and tournaments in Europe for Zach this year.”
Golf Australia said National Squad players were given competition opportunities nationally and internationally, and access to sports medicine, sport science, strength and conditioning, psychology, physiotherapy, biomechanics, nutrition specialist and camp opportunities.
Players are sent to all National Ranking Events in Australia as well as coming under consideration for international team representation.
Murray was recently added to the Victorian Institute of Sport’s golf program.