David Morgan's golf game will be tested later this month like never before.
And that is saying something. The present Director of Golf at Eagle Creek golf club in Norwalk has five Northern Ohio Section PGA wins on his golfing resume, including the 18-hole finals of the season-long, two-man Best Ball event last fall. He teamed to win with the Creek's second-year pro, Dustin Lieber, on the Catawba peninsula.
Morgan earned his way last fall into the 51st PGA Club Professional championship along with five other professionals members of the section, held June 17-20 at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, Calif.
"It is a medal (stroke) play event with a cut of the top 72 players after two rounds -- and then a second cut after the third round of the top 50 players," said Morgan, a 35-year-old pro. "We are playing for what could be a life-changing amount of money, including $80,000 to the winner.
"And there are also tour and lifetime exemptions to the winner and top finishers," he added. "The higher the finish, the better the opportunity to play in bigger events with the ultimate goal being a trip to the national PGA event."
Gary Wilkins, a longtime local pro at the Elks Club and later Eagle Creek, graduated from the club pro event in 1983 and went on to play in the PGA Championship at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. in 1984. He failed to make the 36-hole cut, however.
Lee Trevino won the 1984 event, turning back both Lanny Wadkins and Gary Player. He shot a four-day total of 273, winning by four strokes. Wilkins shot a pair of 79s. The cut line was 299. Trevino pocketed $125,000 of the $700,300 purse. Wilkins, as did all the players who failed to make the cut, went home with $1,000.
Morgan will try to follow in the footsteps of his former boss starting on one of two courses at Black Horse. The Golf Channel cameras will be rolling all four days for the 312-player event.
"It is a huge challenge to get all these golfers off each day," Morgan said. "They can only do this by using an a.m. and a p.m. wave on both courses each day. I have no idea what course I will be playing or what time."
That creates a challenge for most everyone who has qualified.
"Weather will be a factor, as will challenges on both courses to include speed of greens, bunker depths and how close the fairways are cut and of course the height of the rough," Morgan said. "I would not even try to predict what kind of score I will shoot. Let's just say my game is good right now, as good as it has ever been.
" If I keep it together, and I stay away from mistakes, I should be competitive," he added. "I have a great practice facility here at Eagle Creek and have put in the time over the last month -- even though the weather has not been great."
Morgan feels like he has been peaking over the past month.
"I have finished in the top 10 in all the Section events this spring, so the game is close," he said. "I just have to eliminate some of the stupid bogeys that all players tend to make when they are trying to make a birdie, looking at the pin with an 8-iron in my hand rather than looking at the middle of the green.
"When you are playing at the level I will be playing at, I am pushing a lot of margins," Morgan added. "Play for the middle of the green, accept par and hope for a one-putt birdie has to be my mindset. I have to play to the strength of my game which is my wedge and short game."
And Morgan is going to have to be at the top of his game. He will be facing past PGA tour players and senior tour players.
"Many of the players include those who could not quite make it on tour," he said. "Instead, they get into the golf business as a teaching professional or perhaps a head golf coach at a university and they play a lot of golf. Their games are finetuned.
"It is their second means of making a check," Morgan added. "Rather than working the hours in a pro shop like myself, they hone their game and become a member of the elite players who are just short of making it on tour."
Morgan believes the best player of the six who graduated out of the Northern Ohio section is Benjamin Cook, the Northern Ohio Section Player of the Year. He is presently playing the mini-tours. Longtime Firestone CC professional Gary Robson also made the event.
Morgan's golfing career started at Black River High School. He went on to play and earn his degree from Findlay College. His first job was at the Elyria Country Club. He parlayed Elyria with Millstone Hills Golf Club in New London, the latter being his first pro shop experience as far as dealing with members.
To this day, he appreciates the training Stu and Kelli Cooke gave him. He came to Eagle Creek in 2004.
Morgan and wife, Ashley, have two children.
This article is written by Don Hohler from Norwalk Reflector, Ohio and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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