BIG-hitting Kiwi Ryan Fox took the ISPS Handa PGA of Australasia Order of Merit crown at the final event of the 2019 season… but Aussie Zach Murray has really struck gold despite finishing second.
Fox, who finished tied for 27th at the Australian PGA Championship, on Sunday, will receive entry into the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship, The Open Championship – at Royal St George’s, in July – and October’s WGC-HSBC Champions event, in China, as a result.
But runner-up Zach Murray is equally as excited after earning direct entry on to the European Tour – even though Fox finished AU$307,000, ahead of his nearest rival.
Fox is already an exempt member on the European Tour for 2020, having won the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth tournament, in February – he was also exempt after finishing 57th on the Race to Dubai in 2019.
The Category 16 membership awarded to the PGA Australasia Order of Merit winner goes to Murray as the next eligible player not otherwise exempt.
Murray reached the last 16 of the 2017 Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s when Hampshire’s Harry Ellis beat Australian Dylan Perry in a memorable final to book his invite to the 2018 Masters at Augusta National.
Now Murray will relish a return to European shores, with chances to qualify for The 149th Open at Sandwich – nine years after Darren Clarke’s surprise victory on the historic Kent links.
As a 21-year-old, Murray won the New Zealand Open in just his seventh start as a professional back in March.
And Murray admitted the opportunity to play in Europe was weighing on his mind on Sunday morning.
“Basically all year I’ve been thinking about this moment,” said Murray. “I grew up watching the European Tour on TV at home.
“I’m a big golf fan, I watch a lot of golf. At events, I still whip out the laptop and watch it at nighttime and stuff.
“It’s been a huge goal of mine for a long time, so fortunate to be in the position I’m in with the Order of Merit.
“I haven’t really been playing that great lately and I battled around the first couple days and made it through the weekend – and then got off to a bad start yesterday.
“I was four-over through six, and obviously to shoot two-under on the back nine yesterday and three-under today was pretty good.
“I was feeling a bit of pressure, as you do, but I played great the last six holes. I literally could have birdied the last six holes, so it was pretty good.”
ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit final standings
- Ryan Fox – $307,925.98
- Zach Murray – $230,772.85
- Brad Kennedy – $221,771.42
- Wade Ormsby – $215,824.70
- Michael Hendry – $176,045.34
- Min Woo Lee – $138,439.75
- Aaron Pike – $119,946.67
- Josh Geary – $119,440.28
- Ashley Hall – $115,759.67
- Denzel Ieremia – $104,056.91
•To see the 2020 European Tour schedule, click here.