Notebook: Morgan's opportunity, elusive par, mad Walrus
If Gil Morgan wins the 67th Senior PGA Championship on Sunday, he would become the oldest champion since the Champions Tour began in 1980. Also, Craig Stadler had 84 reasons to be mad after Saturday, while par was precious in the third round.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- Sunday will mark one of the biggest rounds Gil Morgan has ever played. He's hoping it will be one of the most memorable, too.
With a one-shot lead at 6-under-par over Brad Bryant, Morgan will have the opportunity to win his first Senior PGA Championship not just in his home state, but in his hometown and on his home course.
What would that mean to him?
"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, you know," Morgan said. "Obviously it would probably put a little bit more pressure on me tomorrow to do that.
"I'm in a good position at the present time, but I know that I've got to go out there and do kind of the same thing I did today -- hit a lot of good shots and not make too many mistakes and hope that somebody doesn't have a real hot hand."
If Morgan, 59, can pull off the win, he would become the oldest player to win a Senior PGA Championship since the Champions Tour began in 1980. Currently, Hale Irwin holds that honor. He was 58 years, 11 months and
28 days when he won in 2004 at Valhalla Golf Club.
The three oldest Senior PGA Champions are Jock Hutchison (62 in 1947), Pete Cooper (61 in 1976) and Sam Snead (60 in 1973).
ANGRY WALRUS: It certainly wasn't the best of days for Craig Stadler in the third round Saturday. In fact, it tied for his worst round in about 15 years.
With a 13-over-par 84, Stadler equaled his worst career round.
"But that was a good putt on 18," Stadler said of the par putt he managed to drop. "My highest round as a professional ever was an 84. So I did not set a new record."
So the wind was a huge factor then?
"It sucked," he said. "The conditions weren't quite as bad as my golf, but it was almost."
Stadler's worst hole in the third round was the par-3 fourth, where he made a triple-bogey 7, putting him at 5-over through three holes.
"It got going bad early and I made a million on No. 4," he said. "I didn't hit that bad a tee shot and then misjudged a little wedge."
With an 84 for a player of Stadler's pedigree there must have been at least one three-putt, right?
"I didn't even have any three putts," he said. "I just hit it like crap all day."
At least he was honest. What about the final round? Is he ready for it?
"Oh, I can't wait. I wish it was this afternoon. I would love to go out this afternoon and get it over with," he said. "I will come out and go through the motions and try to play a good round tomorrow, but it's for absolutely nothing other than trying to shoot a good score after today and convince myself that I'm not a 20 handicap."
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: On a difficult day at Oak Tree with winds gusting over 30 mph, it was no surprise that Doug Tewell, a local and a member at the golf club, turned in an even-par 71.
What was surprising was how he finished. Playing the back nine first, Tewell made the turn at 1-under. He was 3-under with four holes to play, but made three straight bogeys before a closing with a par. While a 71 was nice, it left Tewell short of his goal.
"I feel very good about it, obviously, I'm tickled to death," he said. "I wanted to beat the course, I wanted to get it in the red, and if there's a disappointment, that's what it is."
But, if you had offered Tewell a 71 before he teed off would he have taken it?
"Trust me, if someone had said 71 in the clubhouse this morning I would have said, 'I'll just sit here and watch you play,'" he said.
REIGN ALMOST OVER: Saturday is referred to as moving day. On this Saturday, defending champion Mike Reid moved on the unkind side of par, posting a 4-over-par 75. He was just another victim of the windy conditions.
"At times, at least for me, it was at least a two- and sometimes a three-club wind," Reid said. "But if all you had to deal with was into it and down, it would be a different matter. The crosswinds were what got so confusing. You could toss up grass and get three different angles."
THANKS, SON: D.A. Weibring posted one of the better rounds on Saturday, winning the fight against the elements with a 1-under-par 70.
However, Weibring was without his regular caddie, his cousin Tim. Tim wasn't feeling well after looping on Thursday and Friday in the extreme heat.
Knowing Tim wouldn't be ready to go Saturday, Weibring put in a call to his son, Matt, in Dallas. Matt is a member of the Nationwide Tour and made the drive up from Dallas to aid his dad.
"I don't know who is going to be on the bag tomorrow," Weibring said. "If Tim will bounce back or Matt, but I really enjoyed having Matt out there and Tim all week. It's been fun."
BACK-ING OUT: R.W. Eaks of Scottsdale, Ariz., who had two top-15 finishes in the Championship the past two years, withdrew after playing two holes in the third round on Saturday. Eaks, who entered the day eight shots off the lead, went bogey, double-bogey on his first two holes before pulling out because of back and hip problems.
EVER MORE ELUSIVE PAR: There were 19 players under par through the first round, 13 through 36 holes and eight after three rounds of play. With the wind gusts reaching 30 mph on Saturday, only three players turned in below-par third rounds: Mike McCullough and Dick Mast fired 2-under 69s and D.A. Weibring finished with a 1-under 70.
The biggest move on Saturday belonged to McCullough, who jumped from a T55 at the start to a T14 at the end. Others making big moves were Doug Tewell (T44 to T19), Fuzzy Zoeller (T68 to T29), Bruce Lietzke (T55 to T29) and Eduardo Romero and Vicente Fernandez (T35 to T14).
EAGLE NEST: Four players posted eagles in the third round, all on the 528-yard, par-5 16th hole. The eaglers were Jim Ahern, Dave Barr, Eduardo Romero and Loren Roberts. Of the 14 eagles made through the first three rounds, all but two came on the 16th hole.
BIG DIFFERENTIAL: Oak Tree again was the winner on Saturday as the trademark Oklahoma winds came roaring down the plain. The stroke average for the field was 74.54 in the first round, then 74.92 in the second round and 75.77 in the third round. The most difficult hole Saturday was the 197-yard, par-3 fourth hole, which yielded a 3.632 stroke average.
MORGAN WITH THE LEAD: Gil Morgan has held sole possession of the third-round lead four times in his career and has won three of those, the last coming in 1998 when he claimed the Ford Senior Players Championship. He finished second in the other at the 1998 Senior Tour Championship. Four years ago, Morgan also was tied for the lead after 54 holes at the Senior Tour Championship at Gaillardia here in Oklahoma City, but finished second behind Tom Watson.
Should Morgan, a 23-time winner on the Champions Tour, post a victory on Sunday, it would be his first win in more than two years. His last win came at the 2004 SBC Classic, a streak of 57 starts.
COMEBACK KIDS: In the last 11 years, four players have come from behind in the final round to win the Senior PGA Championship. They are Allen Doyle (1999/four behind), Mike Reid (2005/two behind), John Jacobs (2003/two behind) and Fuzzy Zoeller (2002/one behind).
STRONG FINISHERS: Five of the top seven players on the leader board are among the Champions Tour leaders for the best final-round scoring average. Morgan ranks second overall with a 68.40 average followed by Peter Jacobsen (T3) with a 68.50 average. Brad Bryant, who trails Morgan by one stroke, ranks fourth in that category at 68.89, followed by Jay Haas (T5) at 69.00. Loren Roberts (T3) ranks seventh with a 69.25 average.
WINNERS IN POSITION: The current leader board also includes three players who own seven of the 11 wins on the Champions Tour in 2006. Loren Roberts (T3) has won three times, while Brad Bryant (2nd) and Jay Haas (T5) have won two each.
Bob Denney of The PGA of America contributed to this report.