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Late U.S. pro golfer Grayson Murray remembered for his kindness

WARNING: This story contains discussion of suicide.

Dozens of players gathered Tuesday for a solemn celebration of life for Grayson Murray, the PGA Tour winner who had turned the corner from struggles with alcoholism and depression, only to take his life a day after withdrawing from a tournament.

“All of us at the PGA Tour carry a heavy heart and will for a long time to come,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said from Dublin, Ohio, his voice cracking at times. “When you lose a family member, you can never quite put all the pieces back together.”

Murray’s parents, two siblings and fiancee were not at Memorial Park, a garden that sits below the first tee at Muirfield Village, its rock walls filled with bronze plaques of players who have been honoured at the Memorial over the years.

Next to the podium was Murray’s golf bag, along with a large framed photograph of his reaction to making a 40-foot birdie in a playoff to win the Sony Open in January.

His parents said the 30-year-old died by suicide on May 25, one day after he walked off the course at Colonial with two holes remaining in the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Among those who spoke at the celebration was Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who came to know Murray better in the early part of the year, as Murray was trying to get his fiancee more involved with some of the players’ wives.

They played a nine-hole practice round at The Players Championship, Murray and Chesson Hadley against Scheffler and Sam Burns.

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“The look on his face when I gave him $100 on the ninth green is something I’ll remember for a long time because you couldn’t wipe that smile off his face,” Scheffler said. “Without a doubt, he loved being out here inside the ropes.”

Scheffler referred to him as a “sweet man” on more than one occasion, and he was weeping when he walked away from the podium, then buried his head in his wife’s shoulder.

Murray’s death was a shock to players, caddies and everyone involved in the tour. He was a prodigious talent as a junior, won the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky as a rookie and struggled with alcoholism and tour discipline and anxiety. He spoke at the Sony Open about feeling like a failure for not living up to expectations.

Murray’s death personal for PGA Tour commissioner

Webb Simpson, who first met an 8-year-old Murray in their home state of North Carolina, is not at the Memorial this year. He had another close friend, Russell Henley, read his thoughts.

Jay Green, who began caddying for him the week of the Sony Open, told of his hopes to buy a Rolex watch if they had a good year. Murray won the Sony Open and bought a Rolex.

For Monahan, Murray’s death was personal.

This week marks one year since the PGA Tour did a secretive and shocking deal with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf, and Murray was front and centre at a player meeting the afternoon of June 6 to hammer Monahan for doing the deal and not telling anyone.

Monahan a week later stepped away for more than a month with anxiety-induced physical and mental issues. During that time away, Monahan turned off his cellphone for a month.

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“We had a player meeting in Canada that all of you know was intense and heated. Grayson and others were extremely vocal about their displeasure about my decision to keep the membership in the heart. The criticism, it was 100 per cent warranted,” Monahan said.

He said when he finally turned his phone back on during his leave, one of the first text messages he saw was from Murray.

“A line in that text will always stay with me – ‘Jay I just want you to get healthy. I know everything is going to work out for our tour and for the better,”‘ Monahan said. “He offered not condemnation but compassion. Instead of walking away from me, he offered to walk with me.

 “I’ll always be thankful for this act of kindness, and I’m not alone.”

Monahan said similar stories were shared in a private service for Murray and his family on Monday.

Players, along with Memorial founder Jack Nicklaus and wife Barbara, filled the seats. Tour officials stood flanked to the left, with dozens of other players, caddies, equipment representatives and agents filling the ground to the right. More than a hundred spectators watched from a hill above the garden as a bagpipe played Amazing Grace at the end.

“I can only offer the assurance that Grayson’s memory will serve as a continual reminder that the PGA Tour is a brotherhood that transcends competition,” Monahan said. “And our foremost responsibility is to care for each other and be kind. I can’t imagine a prouder legacy.”


If you or someone you know is struggling, here’s where to get help:

This guide from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health outlines how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.

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