Grayson Murray's Wake Forest coach: 'I thought about him a lot today'

Grayson Murray's Wake Forest coach: 'I thought about him a lot today'

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Wake Forest head coach Jerry Haas was standing just off the 10th fairway Saturday afternoon at Omni La Costa, waiting for his first player to tee off in the second round of the NCAA Championship, when his phone buzzed.

It was a text from a former player, and it simply read:

Grayson Murray died.

Haas was shocked. He had recruited and signed Murray out of high school, though Murray lasted just one semester in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before ultimately transferring twice and logging brief stints at East Carolina and Arizona. Murray turned pro in 2015 and went on to win three times on the Korn Ferry Tour and two times on the PGA Tour, including most recently at the Sony Open in January. He also, in recent years, had been open about his battles with anxiety, depression and alcoholism.

Murray had withdrawn from this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge during his second round on Friday, citing illness. The Tour announced at 3 p.m. ET Saturday that he had died, at just 30 years old.

“These are your boys when you recruit them, and they come to your university,” Haas said. “I feel bad for his dad and his mom. Eric is a good man. He runs a good junior golf tour (Tarheel Junior Golf Tour), and he let my son, Kyle, play a lot and get his start in junior golf. That’s the hardest thing, thinking about his parents.”

Haas remembers a moment when a 12-year-old Murray raised his hand at a golf camp and asked Haas how one would go about receiving the Arnold Palmer Scholarship. A few years later, Murray was flashing tons of potential as a high-schooler – “He looked like a Tour pro then,” Haas said – and when it came time to sign with Wake, he was doing so as the recipient of that prestigious scholarship.

In a 2017 story on, Haas revealed a conversation he had with Murray when Murray decided to leave the team: “I told him: ‘Young man, I’m worried about your health. I’m not worried about your golf – that’ll always be there. But I’m worried about you as a person.’”

Haas admittedly did not have a lot of contact with Murray following Murray’s departure from Wake Forest, but he kept close tabs on Murray’s golf as a pro. A few weeks ago, at the Wells Fargo Championship, Haas watched Murray play a few holes.

Haas’ current Demon Deacons shot 16 over Saturday to drop three spots to 18th on the leaderboard, 14 shots back of the top eight. But as he spoke with a heavy heart, Haas kept things in perspective.

“It makes you stop and think,” Haas said. “I’ve been doing this 26 years, and I probably had close to 100 guys who I recruited and played for me, and it’s a sad day. Emotionally, I thought about him a lot today, believe it or not, during the round. We did not play very well, and I wanted to get pissed, but at the same time…”

His voice trailed off, and after a short pause, he concluded:

“I’m going to miss him.”