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Final-hole birdie puts Murray in Open

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BALL GROUND, Ga. – Grayson Murray will have to sit out a year after transferring from two schools in the past nine months. A memorable week at Merion could make that wait a bit more bearable, however.

Murray, 19, started at Wake Forest last fall. He soon decided it wasn’t a good fit and enrolled at East Carolina, where he butted heads with the coach and left the team before the end of the spring season.

“At that point I didn’t know what to do,” said Murray, who is hoping to start at UNC-Greensboro in the fall. “I didn’t know whether to turn pro, or whether to play the mini-tours or stay in school.”

In 2010, Murray, then 16, became the second-youngest player to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event when he played the weekend at The Rex Hospital Open.

Murray has similarly high hopes for the U.S. Open, especially after seeing buddy Beau Hossler and former AJGA competitor Jordan Spieth find their way into contention last year at Olympic. “If they can do it,” Murray said, “then I feel like I can do it also.”

On Monday, Murray was seemingly out of contention midway through the 36-hole qualifier at Hawks Ridge – he double-bogeyed the par-5 13th hole (his 22nd of the day) to drop to 1 under for the day.

“I told my caddie, ‘It’s not the end of the world if I don’t qualify,’” Murray said. “I’m 19 years old. I have so many years to do this and it’s such a good experience for me. It’s a win-lose situation – you either make it or you don’t.”

Sure enough, Murray caught fire and played his last 13 holes in 8 under par, capped by an eagle on the par-5 seventh and an 8-footer on No. 9. That final-hole birdie helped Murray secure the third and final available spot at 9-under 135, one shot clear of 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links winner T.J. Vogel.