JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Grayson Murray and his caddie had a discussion before his final hole that centered on playing it safe or using his driver.
It was a short conversation.
“Driver, man,” Murray said as he recounted the conversation. “Let’s try to make birdie.”
Turned out to be another good decision in a day full of them. After a solid drive on the 416-yard par 4 and a nearly perfect wedge from 89 yards, the 23-year-old PGA Tour rookie made a short birdie putt for a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Murray started his day with a bogey at No. 10, but then made eight birdies to take a two-shot advantage over Greg Owen and Seamus Power. The leader was at 12-under 132.
Owen, a 44-year-old Englishman who has never won a tournament on tour, has shot back-to-back 67s to put himself in contention.
“It’s a good start – I’m happy,” Owen said. “It’s nice to get out this year and get back playing and playing decent and holing some putts. But there’s a long, long way to go.”
Power had a 69. Lucas Glover (69), Trey Mullinax (70), Graham DeLaet (69) and Brandon Hagy (68) were three strokes back.
Kevin Streelman had a two-shot lead after shooting a 63 in the first round, but struggled to a 73 to fall four strokes behind Murray. Cody Gribble was one of the big movers, shooting a 63 to pull within four shots.
But the story on Friday was about Murray, who is on the PGA Tour just a few years after a nomadic college career that included stops at four schools – Wake Forest, East Carolina, UNC Greensboro and Arizona State.
Now he’s leading a tour event going into the weekend in just his third career tournament.
“We practice to get in this position,” Murray said. “We don’t practice to make cuts, we practice to win golf tournaments. I know I have the game to win a golf tournament.”
Murray said he expects plenty of competition over the weekend with 13 players within four shots of the lead. Nearly ideal conditions at the Country Club of Jackson have led to plenty of birdies.
“There’s a lot of good players, there’s a lot of birdies to be made on this course,” Murray said. “But there’s also some bogeys if you’re not in the fairways. So just keep it in the short grass, give myself as many chances as I have done on the first two days.”