Kroger Senior Classic
Kroger Senior Classic
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Morgan closes with 63 to snatch title

Gil Morgan shot a 7-under-par 63 on today to win the $1.4 million Kroger Senior Classic, his second victory in three weeks.

Morgan birdied the 546-yard, par-5 18th hole to complete his three rounds with a 198 total. Second-round leader Ed Dougherty was two strokes behind, his fourth runner-up finish this year.

"I only had to beat one more person," Dougherty said. "And there's always just one guy who goes home happy, and that's the winner."

Dougherty, who was second when Morgan won the Comfort Classic two weeks ago at Indianapolis, started the day with a one-stroke lead and two strokes ahead of Morgan.

But after three birdies and a bogey on the front nine, Dougherty had just one more birdie en route to a 67. Morgan surged ahead with four birdies on the back side of the Grizzly Course at The Golf Center, north of Cincinnati.

"The middle part of the round was the best part," Morgan said. "From 6 to 13, I made five birdies and that kind of helped me move up the leaderboard and get in position."

Dana Quigley finished third at 201. Hale Irwin, Graham Marsh and Joe Inman tied for fourth at 202.

Irwin, the leading money winner on the Senior Tour, shot 66 for his best round of the tournament but could not gain on the leaders.

"I had my chances today, certainly on the back nine," Irwin said. "I had some chances and just couldn't convert."

Irwin had four consecutive birdies on the front nine, but was even par on the back side except for a birdie on 17.

"I'm not quite on my game," Irwin said. "I can't be unhappy with the results, but I'm unhappy with how I'm getting there."

Dougherty missed a number of birdie putts.

"I got myself in position, but somebody else played better today," he said.

Morgan, who has 15 wins since joining the Senior Tour in 1996, moved into fourth place on this year's money list with a $210,000 paycheck. He credited Mike McCullough with helping revive his game after a lackluster start to 1999.

"I've been playing pretty well the last two or three months," Morgan said. "I've been working a little bit harder on my game, and Mike has been working with me on my putting."

Crowd favorite Lee Trevino shot 68 to tie for seventh with John Mahaffey at 203. First-day co-leader Jimmy Powell shot 70 to fade to 204 with David Graham and former Kroger champion Jim Dent.

Defending champion Hugh Baiocchi, who last year took the same path as Morgan with victories at Indianapolis and Cincinanti, shot 72 to finish at 210.