Money-Leader Morgan Leads Ford

By Sports NetworkJuly 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Gil Morgan fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday at the TPC of Michigan to grab a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Ford Senior Players Championship.
Dana Quigley, who is competing in his 250th straight event that he has been eligible for, joined Bruce Fleisher, Allen Doyle, Isao Aoki, Mark James and Jose Maria Canizares in a tie for second at 4-under-par 68.
Morgan, who tops the Champions Tour money list this season, has been one of the most consistent performers on the elder circuit since he joined the tour in 1996.
'I haven't played quite as well the last couple of weeks as I did earlier in the year,' said Morgan, who captured the SBC Classic in March. 'But at the same time, the last couple of weeks I've hit some really good shots. I feel like my game was coming around a little bit, but at the same time, you don't exactly know how it's going to pan out in this type of championship.'
Morgan got off to a quick start at the opening hole after his approach shot landed within 3 feet of the cup for an early birdie. He added a birdie at the par-5 third and picked up another birdie at the par-5 seventh to reach 3 under around the turn.
'We started out early,' said Morgan. 'It was a little bit cool at that point in time and then it ended up misting, raining a little bit off and on for three or four holes. On the back nine, I made a few more birdies.'
The 57-year-old began his birdie run on the inward half at the par-3 12th and made it two in a row with a birdie at the 13th. Morgan stumbled to a bogey at the 14th, but came right back at the par-3 15th and knocked his tee shot to 10 feet for a birdie to move to minus-5.
'It's a very difficult hole,' he said of the 14th. 'It's a hole that I have not played all that well through the years, and the greens are deceptive.'
Morgan continued playing well down the stretch and hit a 9-iron from a bunker to 12 feet for a birdie at the par-4 16th. At the par-5 17th, Morgan ran home a 20-foot putt for his final birdie of the day to hold a significant lead after the first round.
'The year I won here, I played really well,' said Morgan, who was the victor here in 1998. 'Some of the years I just can't seem to make it happen, and then other years it seems to fit my game. Sometimes I feel like I take too many chances. I think this year, at least the start here, I've played halfway decent most of the day and was able to recover when I made most of my mistakes.'
Quigley also birdied the first, but he gave that shot back with a bogey at the very next hole. Quigley countered with a birdie at the fifth and played a 4-wood to 20 feet for an eagle at the par-5 seventh.
At the par-4 ninth, Quigley hit his second shot to 15 feet and drained the putt for another birdie.
The 57-year-old, who tied for second at this event in 2000, added a birdie and a bogey on the back side to finish in the logjam at minus-4.
'In a major, you know, you can't win on the first day,' said Quigley. 'But certainly, you've all heard this, you can all shoot yourself in the foot and be out of it. I think of the eight Ford Seniors I've played in, I've probably been out of it after the first round or two many more times than I've been in it.'
Doyle, the 2001 winner at the TPC of Michigan, mixed five birdies and a bogey for his share of second.
Hale Irwin, who won this event in 1999, is paired with Morgan in the opening rounds. The all-time winner on the Champions Tour carded a 3-under-par 69 to finish alongside Doug Tewell, Ed Fiori, Mark McNulty, Leonard Thompson, Bobby Walzel and Mark McCumber in a tie for eighth.
Defending champion Craig Stadler won this event last year in only his fourth start on the Champions Tour. Stadler opened this year's championship with a 69 to finish in a group at 2 under par that includes Larry Nelson and Jim Thorpe.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Senior Players Championship
  • Full Coverage - Ford Senior Players Championship
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