Golf

Addiction wrecked his golf career. Now he's on the brink of a PGA Tour victory

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Grayson Murray enters Sunday at the Sony Open on the brink of a career-defining victory.
Getty Images/Tracy Wilcox
It should come as no surprise that Hawaii has brought a profound opportunity to Grayson Murray.
Life has a funny way of bringing together our endings and beginnings — and it was here in Hawaii, three years ago, that Grayson Murray’s pro golf career entered a death spiral.
The details of the night that life began to unravel for Murray remain relatively scant. There was a lot of alcohol. An incident at a hotel bar in Waialae. A hearing with the PGA Tour that resulted in Murray being placed on probation. And then, six months later, a most concerning acknowledgment.
“Why was I drunk?” He’d posted, unprompted, on X. “Because I’m a f—ing alcoholic that hates everything to do with the PGA Tour life and that’s my scapegoat.”
PGA Tour life had not been kind to Murray in the months preceding his outburst. He hadn’t made a cut in three months. His grip on the top 125 in the FexEx Cup Playoff race — and by extension, his PGA Tour card — began to loosen. The talent that brought him onto the PGA Tour radar as a teenager had vanished.
“No the pga tour didn’t force me to drink,” he wrote that day. “But the pga tour never gave me help. In my 5 years of experience of being on tour not once have i ever had a request been acknowledged by the commissioner or the PAC other than ‘we will get back to you’.”
(The Tour later refuted Murray’s words in a statement, saying in part, “We can unequivocally say that the PGA Tour is a family, and when a member of that family needs help, we are there for him. That has been the case here and will continue to be.”)
Murray finally found help shortly after the controversy, entering a treatment facility for help with alcohol. He wouldn’t play for the remainder of 2021, and his return to pro golf in 2022 was a stop-and-start affair — a fitting metaphor while he worked through the challenges of sobriety.
He entered the 2023 season healthier — and with more uncertainty — than ever before. With his PGA Tour status in question and his 30th birthday looming, he had what he now calls a “come to Jesus moment.”
“I said, ‘Hey, look, I have an opportunity here. Probably haven’t reached my prime yet. I can get on a good solid 10-year run, and that’s what I plan on doing. I’m in such a good spot right now where I don’t want to change anything I’m doing.”
Murray doubled down on his game, undergoing intense practice and, in a career-first, mental strength training. His first win followed soon after, at the Korn Ferry Tour’s AdventHealth Championship, his first on the feeder tour in eight years. A few months of strong starts later, the victory bug bit again — this time at the Simmons Bank Championship — a victory that granted him a spot in the KFT’s top-30 and automatic PGA Tour membership for 2024.
His membership kicked in on January 1, and his first eligible event arrived two weeks later. It was time for a new beginning, and what better place to start it than in Hawaii at the Sony Open? He started the week off strong with a 1-under 69 in his opening round, but he knew there was more left in the tank. He arrived on Friday morning to Waialae Country Club and shot 7 under, vaulting up the leaderboard and firmly into contention.
In his first moving day Saturday as a full-time PGA Tour member again, Murray followed up his Friday 63 with a Saturday 64 — a scoring blitz that featured no bogeys, an eagle and four birdies. When the dust settled he was tied for a share of the 54-hole lead and had earned his first final-round pairing in his first Tour start.
As he faced media after the round, the gravity of the moment seemed to fall on Murray, who reflected on the three-year journey that brought him back to Hawaii to begin with.
“I’ve obviously been vocal about the alcohol use in the past. I’m over eight months sober now,” he said. “I have a beautiful fiancée that I love so much and who is so supportive of me, and my parents are so supportive of me. My caddie, Jay, is one of my biggest cheerleaders. Just makes everything so easy when I got out here inside the ropes when everyone is just in my circle just really pulling for me.”
The path back to PGA Tour consistency has been a winding one for Murray, and he is far from the end of it. But it was hard for him not to be moved by the changes — and people — that brought him into contention in the first week of the ’24 season.
“They’re right there with me when I do have those hard days,” he said. “And I still have hard days, but I feel a lot more at peace inside the ropes now.”
A victory on Sunday would be a fitting ending to Grayson Murray’s story — the culmination of three years of the kind of hard, unglamorous work that rarely receives public plaudits.
“I know how to win,” he said Saturday. “I’m not afraid of the moment. I’m not going to back down. I’m going to give it my best, and if I don’t win tomorrow, it’s not from a lack of giving it my all or being scared out there.”
The work is never easy, but that’s precisely why you do it. Not in the hope of a satisfying ending, but for the promise of a new beginning.

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.
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