The redemption of Grayson Murray is now complete, at least as far as PGA Tour success goes—the man has come from the depths, and on Sunday he won the Sony Open. There’s an interesting parallel here with Chris Kirk, last week’s winner, who also took time off from playing to manage problems that included alcoholism, and though Murray was always a more controversial figure than Kirk, his emotion after his win was no less moving. But how was his celebration? We’re sticklers here at the the C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Scale, and Kirk was a prime example; as much as we loved his story, we dinged him on the relatively reserved nature of his winning moment. We want fireworks, folks! Let’s see if Grayson delivered.
Here’s a quick reminder of how the C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Scale works: Using 11 different criteria, each rated from 1-10, we come up with a comprehensive score that can be used as a measure of excellence and a comparison to past and future celebrations. The criteria:
Crowd Work: When you win, are you a man of the people, saluting the folks outside of the ropes? Elation: How much did you let loose? Looper Moment: That first hug/fist bump/whatever with the caddie is so important. Emotion: You know you get MASSIVE points for tears in this one. Body Work: Separate from elation/emotion, how good was the sheer physicality? Relations: Family? Friends? Agents? Awkwardness: Golf can be an awkward sport; here, we’re OK with that that—and we reward it. Theatrics: A catch-all category for any other BIG elements of the celebration. Interview: The victory interview … how well did they respond? Opponent interaction: Was there respect shown to the enemy? We love respect. N-tangibles: Anything—and everything—else.
In the ratings below, we’ll refer to this video, which we thank the PGA Tour for providing:
1. Crowd Work
It has been a dismal year for crowd work, we have to say. Winner after winner, from quiet guys like Kirk to seemingly outgoing characters like Tom Kim, have been leaving the crowd hanging at the moment of their triumph. What’s wrong with the crowd, guys? Did the crowd do something wrong? Do we not like them anymore? The dignity of a simple wave has been lost, but I’m happy to report that at the 1:45 mark of the video above, Murray spent approximately three seconds waving to the crowd and even smiling for them. It’s not exactly a Lambeau Leap, but by recent standards he may as well be the head of Arnie’s Army. Kudos to him for giving them their due, short as it was.
Extremely solid. We’ll get into the physical specifics of Murray’s fist pump after his WunderPutt, but for now let’s just analyze the pure exhilaration that plays across the man’s face at 0:22 when it goes down. What I love about his expression, and you can see it even better in slow motion at 1:10, is that it contains a little bit of shock, like, “holy ****, I made that?” Extremely human reaction. If there’s one regret here it’s that Murray quickly contained himself because there were still two players left to putt, and he hadn’t yet won the tournament. I can only imagine what this reaction would have looked like if it was a walk-off. Also, as a man of integrity, I’m technically not supposed to give Murray bonus points for his fiancée’s reactions, but starting at 1:16, the high-pitched woos are really top tier, and the last one is so extended that it actually gets cut off as the replay ends—they couldn’t wait for her to finish.
3. Looper Moment
Pity poor Kip Henley, who has been on Murray’s bag through most of his comeback, but was let go recently, and could only tweet the single word “ouchy” in response to missing out on this payday. Tough stuff for him, but good for Jay Green, who was on Murray’s bag and was the recipient of an emotional hug just as the win became official with An’s short miss. It didn’t last long, but it was sincere and emotional, and Murray even had some shoulder-shaking sob action going on, though he came away with dry eyes so it’s tough to say. In any case, this was a workmanlike, solid caddie hug. Lunchpail stuff.
From the shock/elation of the putt, to the caddie hug, to the intensity of the interview—again, he didn’t seem to go all the way to tears, but it seemed awfully close—he ran the full gamut, and deservedly so. Murray has always been a guy to wear his heart (and his opinions) on his sleeve, so it’s not surprise that he didn’t really hold back.
5. Body Work
Let’s get right to the 1:00 mark and take a good, hard review of what I consider to be one of the great fist pumps in the last year of golf. The footwork is unimpeachable—a quick left, right left, punctuated by a long step, all setting up the hard downward fist pump, the arm staying on the right side of the body rather than coming across like your classic Tiger move, which has the effect of rippling all muscles from the waist up. The lips stay tight, and open only when the fist finishes its move, in a little burst that almost seems nonverbal. The whole thing is completely against the grain, completely novel, and completely awesome. It looks like the fist pump version of a Viking thunderclap, and Murray’s vaguely Nordic look adds to the effect. It’s not often these days that a player can add something to the genre of the fist pump, but here, Murray has come close to something revolutionary. What a thrill.
The fiancée was the star of the show here, and the camera was right on her. She was woo’ing like a champ, as noted above, and she had the “hands up and jumping” move down pat. After the win was secure, Murray beckons her out—kudos to her for not rushing out and smothering his moment, a move we’ve seen before and that is only acceptable with children—and they shared a nice hug and kiss too. Also, her hat is pretty sick; I’m not a fashion guy, but even I can tell the leather braid or whatever tied around it is cool as hell.
Kevin C. Cox
I’ve picked over this clip with a fine-toothed comb, and I cannot find a single instance of awkwardness. What a shame. He’s always seemed a little rough around the edges to me, so I did not see this kind of smoothness coming. Even his handshake with Lewis before the interview looked like they’d planned it.
Beyond the fist pump, this was all pretty standard. You can’t ding him very much, but he didn’t really go above and beyond either.
Really, really good. Murray had a hell of a story to tell, and in his short time with Lewis, he told it well, sparing no emotion. It was raw, moving, and seemingly honest. I also liked at the end how he distinguished between his life and his career, and how in a perfect world, one wouldn’t define the other.
10. Opponent Interaction
You can see this play starting at 1:38, when he shakes hands with An and An’s caddie. Nothing to see there—respectful, smooth, and even gives them the “gee, sorry” look. Not an easy act to pull off after a guy just missed a four-footer to lose it, but he did it well, and without lingering too long. BUT! The real drama comes after, starting at 1:46, when Bradley seems to be lurking to the side and waiting for his own handshake. But Grayson doesn’t see him, and doesn’t seek him out, so Bradley kind of half-shadows him for a few seconds before realizing that it’s not going to happen. Ditto for Scott Vail, Bradley’s caddie. He goes to his fiancée instead, and then it’s on Keegan to wait for him and get a quick fist bump, which you can see at 2:12. It almost looks like Vail has to get his attention so he can acknowledge Bradley, and everything is very respectful when it goes down, but it leads to the question: what responsibility does the winner have to actively seek out the others in his group? Losing sucks, and in my mind the loser shouldn’t have to stick around to give the winner kudos. Murray had a lot to think about, and this wasn’t actively malicious, but we still have to ding the man.
At 1:40, I’m impressed by the way he removes his hat. He has clearly worn his shades facing backward on his hat often enough that he’s learned an entirely new way to take a hat off. Can’t use the brim, or the shades will go flying; you gotta delicately lift it off the dome from both sides. I can only imagine how much habit-breaking had to go into learning that move. A true pro’s pro.
Overall Score: 83.6
Final Analysis: My word, he’s done it! Grayson Murray has absolutely demolished the competition, and now stands first on the all-time C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. leaderboard. What a magnificent performance. In his post-round presser, he said, “I’m a sucker for some good celebrations … I’m never going to back down from a celebration,” and he proved himself. Love him, hate him, or anyplace in between, you can’t deny that the man truly brought it in his victory moment.
83.6: Grayson Murray at the Sony Open 70.2: Ludvig Aberg at the RSM 67.5: Collin Morikawa at the Zozo 58: Luke List at Sanderson Farms 55.5: Viktor Hovland at the Tour Championship 54.6: Chris Kirk at the Sentry 54: Tom Kim at the Shriners Open
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com