Morgan leads Senior PGA Championship by one stroke
EDMOND, Okla. -- Gil Morgan set out thinking it would be pretty neat to win a major title on his home course. He's 18 holes away from accomplishing that dream.
Playing at Oak Tree Golf Club, Morgan fought through brisk wind Saturday to shoot an even-par 71 and take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Senior PGA Championship.
"I think that being able to win this tournament at this point in time in my career at this location -- well, that would be a real plus for me to be able to win this championship," Morgan said.
At 59, Morgan would be the oldest Senior PGA Championship winner since Sam Snead in 1973 and the fourth oldest ever. Jock Hutchinson, who won the first Senior PGA title in 1937 and repeated 10 years later at age 62, is the oldest player to win the tournament.
"I feel like this would be my last opportunity. First of all, you don't have this opportunity very often. And then to have it a couple of times is kind of unique," said Morgan, who missed the cut when the PGA Championship came to Oak Tree in 1988.
"At this point in my career, at this point in my life, this probably won't ever come back here in a time frame where I would be able to compete," he said.
Morgan had three birdies and three bogeys but fared better than playing partners Peter Jacobsen and Brad Bryant to move closer to winning his first Champions Tour major since the 1998 Senior Players Championship.
Jacobsen, the second-round leader, shot a 75 and Bryant had a 72. Morgan was at 6-under, one stroke ahead of Bryant. Jacobsen was tied with Loren Roberts, three strokes behind Morgan. Only three players broke par, and six others shot par in the third round.
"It was obviously a difficult day for everyone, me included," Morgan said.
Morgan birdied the first hole to match Jacobsen at 7-under before Jacobsen ran into trouble midway through the front nine and fell back amid wind gusting up to 35 mph. The wind had been about 10 mph calmer in the second round and ranged from about 7-14 mph in the opening round.
This was the real Oak Tree -- something players never really got to experience when the PGA Tour came to town 18 years ago.
"It's a lot more treacherous out there today, and with the wind blowing I think that you could really see the teeth of this golf course," Morgan said.
Bryant, seeking his first Champions Tour major title, surged into the lead on the par-4 seventh when he hit an 8-iron to eight feet and made birdie while Morgan and Jacobsen came away with bogeys.
"That was my one shining moment of the day," Bryant said.
Morgan had to take a drop on No. 7 after hitting his second shot -- also an 8-iron -- into a small bush and scrambled to get away only one shot behind Bryant.
But fortunes changed at No. 9, where Morgan hit his drive into rough beneath a tree line along the right side of the fairway but chipped onto the green and sank a 16-foot putt for birdie. Bryant missed the fairway to the left and it took him three shots to get onto the green and make bogey.
"I was in the trees and the long grass and then I was in the trees and the long grass," Bryant quipped.
Bryant then three-putted for a double bogey on the par-4 11th and two-putted for bogey at the par-4 14th to fall behind the others. He chipped in for birdie at No. 15 and responded to Morgan's birdie at No. 16 with one of his own at the par-4 18th. Bryant had been 7-under on the back nine through two rounds but ended up 1-over on that side in the third.
Morgan also bogeyed No. 11 and No. 17 and had a birdie at the par-5 16th.
"Gil is a very unusual player and the wind suits him very good," Bryant said.
Roberts, a three-time winner this year who's looking to win his second straight major, was tied with Jacobsen for third after an eagle on No. 16 pulled him to par for the round.
Bryant and Roberts will play in the final threesome Sunday with Morgan, who expected 20 guests for dinner but would get to sleep in his own bed before a final round in which wind were again expected to gust up to about 35 mph.
"Not only does he have a little bit of an advantage knowing the golf course but he has a little bit of an advantage playing in the wind," Bryant said. "But even a little bit of an advantage can be overcome in this game if you have a real good day."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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