Morgan Grabs Legends Lead

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SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Gil Morgan matched the course record Friday with his 7-under-par 65 and in the process, took the first-round lead of the Legends of Golf at Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa.
 
Dave Barr and all-time Champions Tour wins leader Hale Irwin are tied for second place at 6-under-par 66. Craig Stadler is alone in fourth at minus-5.
 
Morgan wasted little time in breaking into red numbers. He drained a 10-foot birdie putt at the first and added a 4-footer at the next hole. Morgan chipped his third to three feet to set up birdie at the par-5 fourth but missed the green and a 10-foot par save at No. 6.
 
Morgan reclaimed the lost stroke at the ninth when he holed a 20-footer.
 
He made it back-to-back birdies at 10 when he sank a 15-foot birdie putt. Morgan made it three in a row with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 11th, then blasted out of a bunker to 3 feet to set up birdie at the 14th.
 
Morgan closed his round with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th to post his 22nd consecutive round of par or better.
 
'The goal today was to get into position to putt for birdie,' said Morgan, who equaled Bruce Lietzke's record from last year's second round. 'I just tried to keep it in play, get it close and roll some putts.'
 
Morgan has yet to post a round over par in his 2004 campaign and sits atop the tour's money list.
 
'It's been a pretty good run to start the season,' said Morgan. 'I think I've struck the ball better this year than last. I feel some of the aspects of my shot are better.'
 
Barr made the turn at 3-under 33, then parred his first six holes on the back nine. He drained three long birdie putts in his final three holes -- 25 feet, 35 feet and 18 feet.
 
Barr, the winner of the 2003 Royal Caribbean Golf Classic, has struggled in opening rounds this season. He has broken 70 once before Friday's round and that was at the season-opening MasterCard Championship.
 
'This is a nice turnaround for me,' said Barr. 'I'm playing with a new putter this week. Putting has been my menace.'
 
Irwin also made the turn at 3 under par but unlike Barr, Irwin moved up the leaderboard with his play early on the second nine. He played his third at the par-5 11th to tap-in range and then hit a pitching-wedge to three feet for birdie at the 12th.
 
Irwin kept his hot streak going with the pitching-wedge at 14. His approach landed five feet from the hole and he converted the birdie putt to get within one of Morgan's lead.
 
'I'm very pleased with the day especially since I had played only one round in the last four weeks,' said Irwin, who owns 38 victories on the elder circuit. 'Gil played well and I tried to keep up with him.'
 
Gary Koch, Leonard Thompson, Dana Quigley, Dave Stockton and Bruce Fleisher are knotted in fifth at 4-under-par 68.
 
Defending champion Bruce Lietzke, who is making only his fourth start of the season while battling shoulder injuries, opened with a 2-under 70 and is tied for 16th.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf
  • Full Coverage - Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf