Morgan has one-stroke lead

Updated: April 24, 2004, 8:35 PM ET
Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Gil Morgan had his 23rd straight round of par or better, shooting a 4-under 68 Saturday to maintain a one-stoke lead over Hale Irwin and Dave Barr at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.

Morgan was at 11-under 133, and Irwin and Barr matched the leader's 68 to move to 134 heading into the final round at The Club at Savannah Harbor, a 6,997-yard island layout in the middle of the Savannah River.

Craig Stadler, seeking his second Champions Tour win of the season, stumbled down the stretch, finishing with 68 for 135. He was tied with Gary Koch (67).

Morgan, also seeking his second win of the season, fell two strokes behind Stadler after nine holes. But the steady Morgan, playing in a threesome with Irwin and Barr, kept grinding.

"I just kept plugging away," Morgan said. "I didn't play as well as I'd like on the front side. I felt like I didn't get the ball as close to the hole as I'd like. I'd like a few more birdie chances in the final round."

Morgan moved into the lead at 11 under with a 17-foot birdie putt at the 16th. He failed to increase his lead when a 12-foot birdie attempt at No. 18 curled just below the hole.

"Still, being in the lead has to be a plus at this time," Morgan said.

Irwin, with almost the same line as Morgan, made a 9-footer for birdie at the 18th, leaving him where he started: tied with Barr, one stroke behind Morgan.

Irwin's biggest mistake was a double-bogey at the sixth, a hole players have complained about all week because the tee boxes have been moved back about 40 yards, leaving second shots of about 190 yards to a small green.

His trouble began with a tee shot into some nasty rough.

"Instead of taking it out, I tried to hit a miracle shot -- and didn't," Irwin said. "I was frankly lucky to make 6 on that hole. You try to erase that, but sometimes you can't."

Barr, starting the round tied with Irwin at 6 under, had the only bogey-free round among the leaders.

"All in all, we're all just chasing the doctor (Morgan) out there," Barr said. "We'll see what he does. There are times when Gil is good. But, there are times when he gets away with some errant shots, too."

Stadler, starting two strokes off the pace at 5 under, birdied five of his first eight holes and looked as if he might run away from the pack. His start included birdies on Nos. 6 and 8. Stadler was 10 under at the turn, but suddenly lost his putting touch. He missed birdie attempts inside 10 feet on three of the first four holes on the back side.

"We watched Craig at No. 11," said Barr, who played in the threesome behind Stadler, Koch and Leonard Thompson. "We noticed from his body language that he was missing some putts. He's pretty easy to read if you've been around him."

Stadler managed a birdie at No. 14, but gave it right back with bogey at the par-3 15th.

He left his second shot on the collar at No. 18 and ran his putt 5 feet past the cup. Stadler missed his next putt and watched with disappointment as the ball rolled below the hole and dropped him two off the pace.

The team of Bob Charles and Stewart Ginn won the Raphael Division team title by one stroke over the teams of Frank Beard and Jimmy Powell and Mike Hill and Lee Trevino. Charles and Ginn were at 18-under 126 in the two-day, better-ball competition. The Legends of Golf had been strictly a team competition until 2002. Players in the team competition play for unofficial money now.

Divots Morgan isn't the only player with an impressive streak of par or better rounds. Stadler now has 17 straight, and Tom Purtzer's 67 pushed his consecutive streak to 14. Twenty-six players broke par Saturday. ... Koch is competing in the individual competition this year after winning the Raphael team division last year with Roger Maltbie. ... Don Pooley's 66 was the low round of the day. He was at 137.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press