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Golfers at UNC Health Championship honor Raleigh native and PGA Tour winner, Grayson Murray

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — More than 150 professional golfers headed to the Raleigh Country Club Thursday to compete in the UNC Health Championship.

The four-day event is part of the Korn Ferry Tour that helps support the hospital and local partners in the community.

Raleigh native Grayson Murray, PGA Tour winner, dies at 30 just a day after withdrawing from Colonial

Tournament Director Brian Krusoe said about 700 volunteers and UNC Health and golf course staff help bring the event together.

He said, “The former tournament, the Rex Hospital Open, started in 2005 and we’ve raised over $10 million for charity. We’re continuing the tradition at the Raleigh Country Club and we’ve always been tied in with the community, had a lot of exciting memories, finishes, and friendships… all kinds of things over the years. It’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

Krusoe said it’s the second time the competition has been held at the Raleigh Country Club and the first time the total purse has increased to $1 million.

Golfers from across the country, including Carter Jenkins of Raleigh, came out to compete on Thursday.

Parents of PGA Tour golfer Grayson Murray: ‘He rests peacefully now’

“The comfort level of being at home, staying with my folks and having some of my mom’s good cooking, knowing where I’m going, knowing the golf course, knowing the people and having a bunch of supporters out here, it’s wonderful,” Jenkins said. He added, “I think this is my sixth time playing now and it never gets old playing a home game.”

Jenkins, who scored a 67 on Thursday, said the competition has stirred a mix of emotions. His focus wasn’t just on the game, but also a dear friend.

Grayson Murray holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open golf event, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Grayson Murray holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open golf event, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The tournament comes days after the death of 30-year-old Grayson Murray. The two-time PGA Tour winner, born and raised in Raleigh, died by suicide on May 25 from suspected carbon monoxide. Officials said Murray withdrew from a tournament in Fort Worth, Texas the day before.

“It’s really been a difficult week for me to wrap my head around and I’ve had to answer a lot of questions about him. I hope everyone understands just how genuinely kind, competitive, and caring he was—because he really was,” Jenkins said.

Murray and Jenkins grew up playing golf together, both at the country club and at Wildwood Green where Murray used to live and where Jenkins still plays and practices.

“I just reached out to his parents yesterday and didn’t say much…,” Jenkins said. “There really wasn’t much I could say other than I’m sorry.”

Bill and MaryBeth Webb who came out to the competition at the Raleigh Country Club as spectators said it’s not the first time they’ve come to watch.

Grayson Murray rallies late to win Sony Open in a 3-way playoff

Bill said, “When the tournament was in Wakefield, which is up near Wake Forest, we actually followed Grayson for nine holes once… It’s just a sad event, it’s an awful thing to have happened.”

Krusoe said Murray was a familiar face to many.

“We miss Grayson very much and it’s tough because he has such a long history with our tournament and our community being from here. He played in the tournament many times and almost won, he was involved in junior clinics… it’s been very tough,” said Krusoe.

A bag with Murray’s name on display at the first hole on the course of the UNC Health Championship. (Mariah Ellis/CBS 17)
A bag with Murray’s name on display at the first hole on the course of the UNC Health Championship. (Mariah Ellis/CBS 17)

Krusoe pointed to a bag with Murray’s name on display at the first hole on the course. Others wore green ribbons to help spread awareness for mental health. Krusoe said they plan to have an honorary tee ceremony Sunday afternoon for Murray.

“He won’t be forgotten here at this tournament,” Krusoe added.

More information on how you can attend the UNC Health Championship can be found here.

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