At the PNC, Murchison is Mr. Versatility
HERSHEY, Pa. — Among the sizable percentage of players who believe the game has lost its way in the area of equipment standards and regulation, there is an avid faction that contends we’d all be better off stuffing fewer than 14 clubs in our golf bags. Count Bill Murchison III in that camp.
Twice since 2008, the 27-year-old Murchison, now an assistant professional at Towne Lake Hills Golf Club in Woodstock, Ga., won the One Club World Championship. Using only a 7-iron, he won in 2008 at The Standard Club in nearby Atlanta with rounds of 79-73; at Atlanta’s Bridge Mill Athletic Club two years later, he scored 79-79 wielding nothing but a 6-iron.
“I did it because I wanted to learn to be more creative,” said Murchison after his 2-over-par 73 on Hershey Country Club’s East Course in Sunday’s first round of the 44th PGA Professional National Championship. “I wanted to learn how to play bump-and-run, and different kind of shots that what I would normally play under certain circumstances.”
The epiphany was immediate for Murchison, whose father, Bill Murchison II, played on the Nike and PGA tours from the mid-1970s through the ’90s.
“I used to flop everything,” he said, “but right off the bat with one club, I said to myself, ‘Wait a second. There’s another way to do this.’ In my first (one-club tournament) I had 113 yards to the first green and I hit a bump-and-run, like it was links golf. And I hit it to 10 feet.
“I encourage my members to do this. Even if they try it the first time with two or three clubs, they’ll see the benefits immediately. In fact, it’s something that I’d encourage every PGA professional to do. It’ll teach the members a lot and they’ll see that it’s a lot of fun.”
In the second round of his first one-club victory, Murchison made 17 pars and, from the only bunker he hit, one bogey. “That was one thing I learned very quickly: Stay out the bunkers,” he said. The day before, Murchison hit it in one bunker and needed five tries to get out, or his 79 would have been much better.
Bridge Hill was a longer golf course, so Murchison decided he needed more length in his chase for a second One Club title. “The tee boxes were longer,” he explained, “so I went with a 6-iron instead of a 7. My goal was to reach every par 4 in two and every par 5 in three, and for the most part I was able to do that.”
At Hershey, Murchison got off to quick start, offsetting a bogey at No. 3 with four birdies in his first seven holes.
“I played very well,” he said. “My driver let me down a bit toward the middle of the round, but I hit some good shots.”