Gentle giant Zach Murray has taken the professional plunge in time for the Emirates Australian Open.

Murray, 21, will take up his ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia card that he earnt in winning the recent West Australian Open at Mount Lawley in Perth.

Having led that tournament from wire-to-wire, then backing up days later to lead the recent Isuzu Queensland Open for the first two rounds, Murray feels the time is right to join the pay-for-play ranks.

“I always wanted to turn professional when I was playing my best golf, so it seems like a pretty good time right now,” said Murray, who will remarkably play his fifth national championship at The Lakes in Sydney.

“Obviously this tournament means a lot to me, so there’s no better time to have a crack.”

Murray, of Wodonga, leaves the formative stages of his career having won the Australian Master of the Amateurs crown and having played in three winning Victorian teams, including twice as captain, at his beloved Interstate Series.

He paid tribute to his “awesome” parents, his friends and teammates at both Wodonga and Commonwealth golf clubs and others who’ve helped in his development.

“Golf Australia has been fantastic, all the help from everyone at the Victorian Institute of Sport and especially my coach Marty Joyce who I’ve been with for six years now and we’ve developed a great relationship,” Murray said.

“What they’ve all taught me is that this next step isn’t a race, it’s a journey.

“So I’m really looking forward to taking this next step and taking up my card with the PGA of Australia.”

PGA chief executive Gavin Kirkman welcomed Murray to the tour ranks.

“Zach is a very talented player which was on full display at the WA Open. We are delighted to officially welcome him as a member of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia,” he said.

“I am sure that this is just the first step in a bright future and we look forward to assisting Zach in accomplishing his dreams with the opportunities the tour makes available.”

Golf Australia high performance director Brad James was also excited about Murray’s trajectory.

“We have all watched Zach develop into a special athlete who has a great temperament and character,” James said.

“As all our athletes heading into professional ranks, he will have our full support on this next step in what we hope is a long career.”