TRANSCRIPT | Zach Murray, 101st NZ Open, pre-tournament press conference

Q. Zach, firstly welcome back, tell us about the journey this week coming back from Mexico but also how the 12 months since last year has changed things for you? So obviously just landed in this morning and it’s been a pretty big day and a half for me but I’m feeling pretty good. I […]

Q. Zach, firstly welcome back, tell us about the journey this week coming back from Mexico but also how the 12 months since last year has changed things for you?

So obviously just landed in this morning and it’s been a pretty big day and a half for me but I’m feeling pretty good. I just had a nice pie from the bakery in Arrowtown so that’s fixed me up pretty good. It was an amazing week last week in Mexico and then the last 12 months has been a bit of a blur for me really. It’s been a lot of, obviously starting really here last year I sort of kick-started me for 2019 and I played quite well up in Asia and in the co-sanctioned stuff and then was able to finish the year decent at the PGA and get my European Tour card so that was a huge bonus for me.

Q. How do you feel you played in Mexico last week?

I got food poisoning on the Tuesday so my expectations got severely lowered. I didn’t go to the course on Wednesday at all. I battled around for the first couple of days and played quite nicely. I relied on my caddy quite a bit. Simon Clarke, he sort of just guided me around really and I just sort of sipped on the water and played really nice on the Saturday. I probably could have had a couple more but I was sitting nicely at 15th and then on the last day I didn’t really do much wrong but I probably just ran out of a little bit of gas and made a few soft errors. I played with Tommy Fleetwood on the last day and it was nice to see how they play compared to my game plan. My game plan is probably quite conservative compared to theirs.

Q. I’d imagine there are pros and cons playing the week before so far away and only arriving the day before you tee off as a defending champion but playing in a big event you’ve got to do it. I suppose the first round is just trying to feel your legs and feel your swing again is it?

I’m about to go out and play nine now and see how it goes but obviously it helps being young I think at the moment I’m feeling pretty good. I had a fair bit of sleep on the plane and the last few months my swing has been feeling pretty consistent. Obviously last week, I get a lot of confidence from that and then I think I’ve said it all along this is one of my favourite places in the world, Queenstown and coming here I was really excited.

Q. What is different coming back as defending champion coming in the gates the first time? How was that feeling?

When I rocked up to the hotel this morning my photo was in the front of the hotel so that was quite strange. It’s just so cool. I’m super excited and I think just getting those feelings back of last year and I’m playing here tomorrow but playing at The Hills on Friday and sort of maybe going down the 18th it’s the next time I’ve been down there since last year that’ll be pretty cool. There were a lot of nerves flowing there last year so probably not as many on Friday but hopefully I can reignite that stuff and get the lead on Sunday.

Q. Have you spoken to Ryan Fox about how he handled that trip last year and I think it was the second and third days where he really felt it. Have you spoken to him about it?

I played with him in Mexico on the Saturday actually so I had a little bit of a chat to him but I’m sort of fortunate in the regard that I think jet lag, I just don’t get quite, it just doesn’t affect me as much as it does others but touch wood it’s alright this week and I can get some good rest tonight. He had some really good advice and then just expectations this week because obviously coming here to try and defend my title and probably I am going to be a little bit tired so there’s probably going to be a bit of frustration sort of that could potentially happen so it’s just all about trying to do the best I can off the course and recover and just do all the one per centres as well as well as trying to enjoy the week. It’s not often you come and defend a title but I’m definitely here and going to give it a red hot crack.

Q. Back to Mexico last week, how did you handle playing, how did you find your club selection?

Pretty good actually. I felt as if I controlled it quite well and I think sometimes because I had food poising I sort of wasn’t really thinking about it too much. I was just sort of getting the number then just going for it. I think it can be one of those ones if you really get too involved in it, it can sort of throw you out a little bit. I got a handle of it straight away. I got over there a couple of days early and it was good, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Q. What did you eat?

I don’t know. I had a little siesta in the afternoon and woke up and I was in all sorts. I hadn’t had that much. I’d eaten at the players’ lounge and the hotel and nothing. Nothing crazy. I hadn’t gone wild on burritos or anything.

Q. Returning as defending champion, does that put more pressure on you do you think?

Nah, I won’t put any pressure on myself. Obviously the expectation is to come back and play well and my game is in good shape. I’ve got a lot of family and friends over this week and it will just be nice to get out there and play. I’m playing with the same amateur partner as I did last year, Scotty, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Q. Are you not a suspicious guy, you’re not doing the same things you did last year?

I’m playing here (Millbrook) first round tomorrow and I played here first round last year so that’s a big tick for me. I didn’t warm up last year because it was too cold so I might just sit in the clubhouse again like I did last year but nah I’m not that suspicious. We’ll just go out and give it a run.

Headlines at a glance