Favorite son Morgan 18 holes away from fairytale finish
It's tough to try to make birdies when remaining upright is one of your biggest challenges. Strong winds buffeted Oak Tree Golf Club on Saturday, making the 67th Senior PGA Championship a supreme test of golf, strength and nerves.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- Wicked and relentless winds in excess of 30 mph took their toll at Oak Tree Golf Club, literally blowing names down and off the leaderboard at the 67th Senior PGA Championship in the third round Saturday.
Of the 77 players who made the cut, only three broke par. None of those who broke par were in the top six on the leaderboard.
Making good use of local knowledge, Gil Morgan went out and posted a solid even-par 71 to remain at 6 under par for the tournament, and will take a one-shot lead into Sunday's final round.
"Obviously we [the players from Oklahoma] probably have a little more experience than most of the players here," he said. "And then when the conditions get severe, then our experience comes into play a lot more, I would anticipate. From that standpoint, I think that we might have had an edge with routing and also how the course normally plays, and of course because we play a little bit, in a little bit of wind all the time. We may understand those situations a little bit better than the rest of the field did."
Brad Bryant was one off the lead at 5 under after a 72, while 36-hole leader Peter Jacobsen struggled in the conditions and posted a
4-over-par 75 to sit three off the lead with Loren Roberts (even-par 71).
Jacobsen has been nursing a sore hip and two sore knees, and the strong winds only acerbated the situation.
"I was hurting today. I was hurting," said Jacobsen, who carded four bogeys after making only one through the first 36 holes. "I was feeling pretty good yesterday. I was not feeling great today. So that was one variable that I didn't need to deal with.
"So, yeah, I just didn't have it today."
Bryant was on top of the leaderboard through eight holes at 7 under par, but took a bogey at No. 9 after playing pinball with a group of trees to the left side of the fairway. A costly double-bogey at No. 11 dropped him to 4 under. He fell to 3 under with a bogey at No. 14, but grabbed birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to right the ship.
"It was not pretty out there today," Bryant said. "I know that my caddie on about the 10th or 11th hole, or something, he said, 'Well just hang in there, because this is like, it's a war of attrition out here today.' So that was, I think, a pretty good way of describing it."
Dana Quigley, who finished tied for fifth with Jay Haas at 2 under par, said he drove the ball poorly, but still wound up with a 72.
"I stole one out there today," he said. "I felt like I played worse than 72. No question. When you start out a day like this, you know your up and down game has got to be there. I hit a lot of great chips and wedges around greens. You just try not to dwell on the fact that you're 2 over, or 3 over. Par is probably 74 or 75 today."
Haas on the other hand, was upset about his 2-over-par 73. He was particularly perturbed with his bogey on the final hole, the result of a 7-iron over the green and failure to get up and down.
"I'm pretty disappointed -- especially bogeying the last hole," he said. "I probably hit two of my best shots of the day and hit it just over the green, kind of in a no-man's land over the green there."
With conditions expected to be similar on Sunday, Haas believes the tournament is Morgan's to lose.
"I guess we're still in the hunt, but he's going to be tough to beat," Haas said. "I thought going into the week he was the guy to beat here. I've got to shoot something in the not-so-high 60s tomorrow and if it's blowing like this, that's a pretty tall order."
Dick Mast and Mike McCullough tied for low-round of the day honors with impressive 3-under-par 69s. Mast was tied for seventh with D.A. Weibring, while McCullough was tied for 14th.
Kirk Hanefeld, tied for 50th at 10 over par after a 79, had the lowest total of the seven PGA Club Professionals who made the cut.
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 entered the day eight shots off the lead and went bogey-double-bogey on his first two holes before pulling out because of back and hip problems.