George Murray eyes bright start on Euro Tour

GEORGE Murray could take time to adjust to life as a full-time European Tour player, the new chapter in his career starting today when he plays in the opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Speaking yesterday from the practice range at Leopard Creek, where he is among five Scots competing in the opening event on the 2011 European Tour schedule, the Fifer reported he was "looking forward to the challenge but do you know this call is costing me 1.50 per minute?"

Money may have been a concern for Murray since he turned professional four years ago but, having earned a step up to the lucrative main circuit after finishing tenth on the Challenge Tour money list this year, the former Scottish amateur champion might not have to worry about the cost of his mobile phone bill for much longer.

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This week's event carries a prize fund of more than 800,000, as does next week's South African Open, giving the likeable 27-year-old two good opportunities to get his campaign off to a great start before the turn of the year.

"I'm certainly aiming to get off to a flying start but, at the same time, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," said Murray. "I'm going into the new campaign determined to keep the same mental approach to events that served me so well this year and hopefully that will pay off again."

Through his Challenge Tour ranking, Murray made the odd appearance on the main circuit in the past, finishing third behind English duo James Morrison and Oliver Fisher in the Madeira Island Open in April.

Later in the year, he chalked up his first success in the paid ranks when beating a strong field to win the Scottish Hyrdo Challenge at Spey Valley.

En route to South Africa, where he represented Scotland in the 2006 Eisenhower Trophy along with Richie Ramsay and Scott Jamieson, Murray stopped off in Dubai to spend some time with coach Ian Rae, who is currently out in the United Arab Emirates with a ten-strong squad of Scottish amateurs.

"That was good, especially as I was hitting the ball so bad that it was unbelievable when I arrived there. It feels a lot better now, though, and hopefully I can do well in these two events," he said.

Jamieson, another graduate from the Challenge Tour, is also in this week's field, with David Drysdale, Peter Whiteford and Alan McLean completing the Scottish contingent in an event that is being headlined by this year's Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen.