Morgan Wins Wire-to-Wire


MAINEVILLE, Ohio -- Gil Morgan posted a 4-under 68 on Sunday to polish off a wire-to-wire victory at the Kroger Classic. He finished 54 holes at 16-under-par 200 to win by two shots over Doug Tewell.
Jim Thorpe fired an 8-under 64 on Sunday to share third place with Larry Nelson, who carded a 67 in the final round. The pair came in at 13-under-par 203.
Morgan held a two-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round but squandered that quickly with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 4. He rebounded with birdies at 5 and 8 and after cashing in on a nine-foot birdie putt at the ninth, Morgan held first by himself.
He two-putted the par-5 11th green for birdie and added a 10-footer at the next but Nelson and Graham Marsh closed the gap to one shot. When Morgan missed the green short at 13 and hit a poor chip, he bogeyed the hole to fall into a tie for the lead.
Marsh lost his ball at the 15th and bogeyed the hole. Nelson, playing ahead of Morgan in the final group, hit a rock at 17 and fell into water. He bogeyed that hole and saw his chances of a win sink into the pond.
Morgan vaulted to the top with a beautiful 9-iron at the par-4 15th. He landed the ball 10 feet from the hole and sank the birdie try to get two clear of Marsh and Nelson.
'The birdie at No. 15 was critical,' said Morgan, who won $225,000 for the victory. 'I was concerned after I made bogey at No. 13. There was a lot of excitement out there today.'
Tewell climbed up the leaderboard with three birdies on the back nine, including a 12-footer at the 15th but he had his chances to get closer. At the 16th, Tewell missed a 12-foot birdie try and one hole later, he missed a nine-footer for birdie.
Despite the missed opportunities, Tewell found himself one behind Morgan at the closing hole at the TPC at River's Bend. The duo both found the fairway at 18 but Tewell badly pulled his second. Morgan knocked a 3-wood on to the green in two and watched as Tewell hit his chip heavy.
Tewell got up and down for par while Morgan two-putted from 31 feet to earn his first title of 2003.
'I had played well several times this year and finished second four times,' said Morgan. 'I didn't start well today. It was getting pretty late in the year. I had started to think I might not win this year.'
Morgan visited the winner's circle for the 22nd time on the Champions Tour. He has now won in eight consecutive years on the elder circuit and only Hale Irwin and Miller Barber have won in nine straight years.
Morgan also became the first player to win the Kroger Classic twice and is the second golfer to go wire-to-wire in 2003. Jim Ahern claimed the Music City Championship in Nashville in May after leading each of the three rounds.
Tewell earned his first runner-up finish of the 2003 campaign and admitted his flat stick hurt him on the back nine.
'I hit a lot of great shots on the back nine, I just didn't hole any putts,' said Tewell. 'It was fun out there but it just wasn't my day today. Gil played well. He played rock solid the last 10 holes.'
Marsh shot a 69 on Sunday and took fifth place at 12-under-par 204. Don Pooley and D.A. Weibring fashioned matching rounds of 6-under 66 and shared sixth place with Hugh Baiocchi, who carded a 67 in the final round. The trio came in at 11-under-par 205.
Bruce Fleisher and Tom Jenkins tied for 10th at minus-10.
Related Links:
  • Kroger Classic Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - Kroger Classic