First 9 ruined Morgan
KA'UPULEHU, Hawaii » You can't say Gil Morgan hasn't had his fair share of success over the years at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai -- he has. But after he opened with a 41 on the front side Friday, nobody would have blamed him had he mailed it in over the remaining 45 holes.
Instead, Morgan quickly turned things around with a 30 on the back nine Friday for a 1-under 71. At that point, he was just trying to stay out of last place and keep from embarrassing himself in front of his fellow 34 golfers taking part in this winners-only event.
The 59-year-old came back Saturday with a 9-under 63 that equaled the course record and moved him from a tie for 32nd place with Bruce Lietzke to a tie for ninth with Peter Jacobsen and Mark Johnson. Morgan went one stroke lower yesterday with a blistering 10-under 62 that was the course record for about 30 minutes.
Loren Roberts would break it with an 11-under 61 with a birdie at the finishing hole to secure the win, but the outstanding final round gave Morgan a top-five finish with Tom Watson at 20-under 196.
To put that in perspective, that total was one shot shy of the 21-under 195 that gave Morgan a six-shot victory over Gibby Gilbert in 1998 and was the record for the event until Roberts broke that, too, yesterday with his 25-under 191.
"Nothing went quite right for me that first nine on Friday," Morgan said. "I had a lot of putts that grazed the hole and a lot of drives that didn't find the fairway. But I just tried to focus at No. 10 and get this thing turned around before it was too late."
He certainly did that. Over the final 45 holes, Morgan was 25 under and would have tied Roberts had he just shot even par over those first nine holes. He played the front nine at 3-under 33 on Saturday and 5-under 31 yesterday. But if he was disappointed, he didn't show it yesterday. He birdied the final hole to shoot the 62.
"I just had to put that first nine behind me," Morgan said. "I was able to do that. I just wish I could have found my game a little sooner."
Morgan's final 36-hole score of 19 under set a Champions Tour record in relation to par for consecutive rounds. Dana Quigley managed an 18-under 126 at the 1999 Novell Utah Showdown.
Weibring goes bogey-free: D.A. Weibring was at the top of the leaderboard for several holes yesterday, before Roberts caught him by going 7 under over an eight-hole stretch (Nos. 7 through 14). He was the only golfer in the field not to record a bogey, and he still lost by two shots, finishing in a tie for third with Jay Haas at 22-under 194. Doug Tewell was the last golfer to go 54 holes without a bogey, at the 2004 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. And he won the event.
"It shows the level of play and how good the golfers are out here," said Weibring, who is one of only two players in this field not to be playing the Turtle Bay Championship this week. "It also shows the condition of this golf course. Everybody loves coming here and playing in this tournament.
"We had a small breeze the first day and it laid down a little bit today. But you're right, if I had said, 'OK I'm going to come play my first three rounds, not make a bogey and shoot 22 under,' I would have been pretty happy. But as it turns out, I needed to do a little bit more to get the win."
Milestone for Quigley: Even though defending champion Quigley's 201 finish left him 10 shots off the pace and in 12th, the $42,000 paycheck lifted him over the $1 million mark in career earnings at Hualalai.
In nine appearances here that include wins in 2003 and 2005, Quigley has earned $1,040,875 for an average of $115,653 an event. His 6-under 66 yesterday extended his streak of sub-par rounds to 17. He has 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s at this event and has never had a round over 72. In 27 rounds of golf here, 25 of them were under par.
Inside the numbers: Yesterday's final-round scoring average of 67.657 didn't quite match Friday's 67.543, but still set a record for the best final 18 at Hualalai Golf Club. There were a record 75 scores in the 60s, breaking the mark of 73 in 2004.
Of the 35 players in the field yesterday, 10 shot 65 or better. This year, 15 players had all three rounds in the 60s. Last year, there were 10. For the tournament, only Gary Player and Pete Oakley wound up over par -- at 1-over 217.
The most difficult hole yesterday was the par-4 11th with a scoring average of 4.314. There were only three birdies, with 22 pars, six bogeys and four double bogeys. The easiest hole was the par-5 10th with a scoring average of 4.086. There were 30 birdies, four pars and the eagle by Roberts. For the week, the 10th was the easiest hole with a scoring average of 4.086. The most difficult was the par-3 fifth with an average of 3.248.
The field's stroke average for the tournament was 67.981 vs. 69.495 last year. There was only one bogey at the par-5 10th and the par-5 14th, and both were made by Mike Reid during the second round.