With 1-letter, 1-symbol gesture, Grayson Murray remembered by Tour winner

Akshay Bhatia

Akshay Bhatia hits his tee shot on Thursday on the 7th hole at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

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A letter. A symbol. Written in black marker on his left wrist. 

Akshay Bhatia then played golf. 

He’d gotten close with Grayson Murray on golf courses. The 22-year-old Bhatia grew up in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The 30-year-old Murray grew up in nearby Raleigh. They spent time together on the Korn Ferry Tour. This year, they were playing full-time on the PGA Tour. 

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They were both winning. In April, at the Texas Open, Bhatia won for the second time on Tour. That gave him a spot in his first Masters the following week. Murray was making his Augusta National debut, too. He’d also won for the second time on Tour, back in January at the Sony Open

The win was electric. He dropped a 39-footer for birdie in a three-man playoff. There was a fist-thrust. A celebration. Bhatia and his fiancee, Presleigh Schultz, greeted Murray on the green. The PGA Tour social media team captured a few seconds of it

Said Bhatia on the video: “I told her on that last putt, I’m like, it’s going in the hole.” 

Said Murray: “Just like you, buddy. We’re going to push each other to be No. 1 and 2 in the world.” 

Said Bhatia: “Let’s go, baby.” 

Said Murray: “Let’s go.”

Last week, they both played the Charles Schwab Challenge. Bhatia missed the weekend cut. On Friday, Murray withdrew after 34 holes. 

A day later, news came that Murray had died; his parents said he’d taken his own life. 

You reflect here, in all various kinds of ways. For Murray. For his family. Friends. Those who even didn’t know him. If there’s a lesson in all of this, it’s that it’s clear you absolutely do not know what is below the surface of anyone. On Sunday, Bhatia posted this to social media: “Words can’t describe how tough this is. A great friend that always supported me as I did to him. I’m gonna miss you so much man. You fought so hard.” 

On Thursday, at the Canadian Open, Bhatia played again. Pro golf is like that. Murray’s parents, notably, had asked the PGA Tour not to stop the action last week. 

But how do you play?  

This is how Bhatia did. 

Akshay Bhatia
Akshay Bhatia’s left wrist on Thursday. Instagram.com

On his left wrist, in black marker, he wrote ‘G.’ Next to it, he wrote ‘$.’ G-money. To his Instagram story, before his early Thursday afternoon tee time, he posted a picture of it and wrote: “Let’s ride today G.”

Bhatia shot a one-under 69. 

Afterward, he took four questions in a press tent at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. They are below. 

“Could you explain what you wrote on your wrist today and why you decided — why you wanted to write that on your wrist today.”

“Oh, god,” Bhatia said, “I didn’t think it would be this hard. [He paused.] Yeah, I wrote G-money today. He’s one of my best buddies out here, grew up together. I looked up to him for a long time.

“I just — yeah, I wish he was still here, but I know he’s here watching above everyone. Yeah, it’s just crazy. Like I was driving yesterday — or a couple days ago, going back from dinner back to the hotel, and for whatever reason, I looked to the right, and there was a trash can with G-money on it. Just freaky stuff happens like that where I know he’s with us.

“Yeah, I’m playing for him this week, and every round I play for the next however long. Yeah, he’s just with me all the time, and he meant a lot to me. Just happy and proud to wear Grayson’s name on my wrist.”

“There’s a lot of stories that have come out about acts of kindness and generosity that he has shown to people, which warms the heart to see. When you think of that, is there anything that comes to mind of kindness or generosity that he displayed either to you or anyone you witnessed?”

“I think just allowing me to be in his group, his little group,” Bhatia said. “He’s just always been such a good guy. He’s never lived a boring life. He’s had a lot of ups and downs and everything in between, but no matter what, he always supported me.

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“Any time I got to see him smile and just talked to him, I knew he was one of the few guys out here that truly wanted me to play well. He just lifted a lot of people’s spirits. Even if his weren’t up, he still wanted everyone to live a great life.

“Yeah, anything he did for kids or for me or for whoever, he did it out of his heart and kindness.”

“Is there anything he taught you that comes to mind or that you learned from him?”

“He was always just this confident guy, little bit of cockiness to him,” Bhatia said. “I just remember when I was 13, 14 years old, I’d see him on the putting green at our golf course, and I’d ask him, ‘What’s it like being on the PGA Tour? It’s just so cool, right?’ And he was always like, ‘Dude, you’re going to be there. Trust me.’

“I don’t know, he just always believed in me. Out here, it can be lonely. This week I’m staying alone, which it’s just not always fun, it’s not always glamorous. Just having the support of a player and someone you look up to and everything in between — yeah, he just taught me to be kind to others. His parents have always been awesome to me and treated me like one of their own, and he’s done the same.”

“Is there anything else you’d like to say about him that you will remember about him or anything?”

“We split a private plane back from Hilton Head back to Raleigh,” Bhatia said, “and he paid me in a check. The check didn’t go through. Then Charles Schwab, he Zelled me $1,600, and he still owes me 400 bucks, so hopefully I’ll get that when I see him.

“Yeah, I think his story and everything that’s happened, I think, has really opened everyone’s eyes. It just doesn’t happen that often. The amount of appreciation and just uplifting energy from everyone across the world, on the PGA Tour, has been great for his family. We’re grateful for that because sometimes you feel like no one really cares about you, but the fact that he’s touched this many people’s hearts, my heart, he’s made me just really open my eyes a little bit.

“I just think the support everyone’s given his family and then everyone is truly amazing. Hopefully this kind of opens the doors for a lot of people that just no matter what, our society is always supporting one another.”

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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