Morgan leads Allianz by one; Zoeller has hole in one
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- One week after blowing a chance to win the Senior PGA Championship on his home course, Gil Morgan put himself in the perfect spot for redemption.
Morgan broke out of a tight pack to top the leaderboard in Allianz Championship on Saturday, shooting a 7-under 64 at Glen Oaks Country Club to take a one-stroke lead into the round.
Morgan had a 12-under 130 total. Loren Roberts, a three-time winner this year and the leading money-winner in the field, was second after a 65.
Morgan led last week's Senior PGA Championship, held in his home state of Oklahoma, by one stroke after 54 holes. But he shot a 74 on Sunday and finished in third, two shots behind winner Jay Haas.
"I missed a golden opportunity, especially playing at home. It's not something I really dwell on, but at the same time it's an opportunity I let get away," Morgan said. "The best I can do is just go play and do the best I can."
Morgan opened play two shots off the lead and made his move with a pair of birdies on the back nine. He took over the top spot with birdies on the second-longest hole on the course, the 549-yard, par-5 15th, and on the par-3 16th.
Morgan was much better on the green Saturday. He needed only 23 putts after putting 30 times in the first round.
"Putting has been a little bit of my downfall. I haven't putted as well I like. But you never know sometimes," Morgan said. "Today I had a very effective putting round."
Roberts improved on an inconsistent opening round of 66. He had six birdies, only one bogey and made par on 17 and 18, considered two of Glen Oaks' toughest holes.
"I played really well today. I hit a lot of good shots, made consistent birdies. I'm right there where I want to be," Roberts said. "Hopefully tomorrow we can improve a little bit, hole a few more putts and see what happens."
For the second straight day, near-perfect weather led to an abundance of low scores. Of the 78 players in the field, 56 were under par.
The field averaged a tournament-record 69.167, marking the first time since the season opening MasterCard Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii that the field scored below 70.
Hajime Meshiai, who entered the Allianz with a scoring average of 73.4 and just two top-10 finishes in 37 career starts, had six birdies and an eagle for a 64. Meshiai was tied with Kirk Hanefeld (65) at 10-under.
Meshiai will play with Morgan and Roberts on Sunday.
First-round leader Scott Simpson fell back to 12th place with a 71.
Fuzzy Zoeller stole the show with a hole in one on the 170-yard 16th hole, an ace he never saw. Zoeller's drive landed in the rough on the fringe of the green and to the left of the pin. Thinking he had a chip shot in front of him, Zoeller stepped off to the side and asked his caddie for his sandwich.
But after laying still for almost 10 seconds, the ball slowly trickled down the green and into the cup. Zoeller, who finished with a 68 to reach 7-under, gave the crowd a wry grin and a sarcastic thumbs-up after one of the most improbable of his 16 career aces.
"It was a lucky shot," Zoeller said. "It's a crazy game. I'm just glad I don't have to do it for a living."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press