It may be something in the Autumnal air, but George Murray appears to come into his own at this time of the season, with a round of 66 shooting the Scotsman into third place in the early stages of the Portugal Masters.
At the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Murray knew he needed a big week to stand any chance of retaining his playing privileges on The European Tour, and duly produced the performance of his life, finishing in a tie for third place alongside Graeme McDowell to extend his stay on the top tier in one fell swoop.
That dynamic display, allied to his runner-up finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship one month later, helped the Dundee resident finish a career-high 81st in The Race to Dubai.
Fast forward 12 months, and the 29 year old finds himself in a similar situation, having slipped to 163rd in the Money List on the back of a wretched run of form.
Murray passed up a golden opportunity to improve his Ranking position at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where a repeat of his heroics from last year – or even a top ten finish – would have ensured another season amongst the golfing elite.
Instead, Murray missed an eminently makeable putt on the 54th hole at Carnoustie, and so sat out the weekend’s action for the eight straight week.
Armed with a new putter for this week’s €2.25million event at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course, however, Murray put that disappointment behind him with six birdies and a solitary bogey in a round which equalled his lowest effort of the season.
He said: “I feel good, I’m very happy with the way I played today. I struck the ball nicely and holed out well, which made for ma very nice change because I haven’t been holing the short ones recently. So it was good to see them drop. That’s the key really, no matter where you play, you have to hole putts. You can’t shoot a good score without holing putts, that’s for sure.
“I’ve played pretty poorly recently but I played nicely last week, so I took a bit of confidence from that, and hopefully I can continue hitting good shots and putting well the next three days. I need a good week here, but I did it last year so I know what it takes.”