Murray leads tight Master of the Amateurs field

Zach Murray fired a second round 3-under-par 69 to sit at 6-under-par for a one stroke lead over Frazer Droop and Andrew Schonewille following the second round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Murray, the 2013 Victorian Amateur champion, has two consecutive 69′s to his name and displayed wonderful course management around the 6077 metre West Course layout as temperatures rose into the high 30′s.

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American David Snyder, Aussie Cory Crawford and overnight leader Ben Eccles share 4th position at 4-under, after Snyder fired a second round 70, Crawford fired a 1-under 71 and Eccles a 2-over 74.

Defending champion, Simon Viitakangas, moved back into the top-10 with a 3-under-par 69 after opening with a 73 to be at 2-under and in a share of 7th position along with six others, including England’s Nick Marsh, fellow Aussie Jake McLeod and Darcy Breveton.

Again this tournament has thrown out the challenges against a truly international field, which includes four players ranked inside the world’s top-10.

The majestic West Course demands respect as players are finding the greens challenging, with placement off the tee a premium as opposed to distance. The West Course is a thinking player’s layout as the many internationals like England’s Nick Marsh and Americans Will Zalatoris and Brian Campbell have demonstrated with their precision iron play over the last two rounds.

Whilst the top of the leaderboard includes a number of locals, the internationals are within striking distance of the local leaders.

Yet Zach Murray today was impressive.

In recent times Murray has flown under the radar and it’s the way the 17-year-old likes it. But that is changing.

With four amateur titles already to his credit, including the 2013 Victorian Amateur and the Aaron Baddeley International Junior, and two match play wins over the much touted Ryan Ruffels, it’s Murray’s capacity to play ‘with’ a course as opposed to ‘against it’, which sets him apart from the rest of the emerging talent in Australian golf.

This will serve him well as the event heads into the second half and what is commonly referred to as the business end as the greens will quicken to demand thought and touch.

With twenty players five strokes off Murray and 36 holes remaining, this event is anything but a certainty. You would expect nothing else from such a star-studded world amateur field that we won’t see again this season in this country.

That’s the beauty of the Australian Master of the Amateurs. The event is played on arguably our best layout with a field that is second to none.

Murray and the 78 other competitors know this and that’s the reason they would so like to be wearing the green jacket awarded to the champion come Friday not to mention the prestige of being the Australian Master of the Amateurs champion.