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Golf: Gil Morgan Wins MasterCard

January 19, 1998

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) _ Gil Morgan and Hale Irwin are back at it. Only this time, Morgan got the jump on his Senior PGA Tour rival.

``Hale and I are off and running again,″ said Morgan, who left Irwin behind Sunday with a six-stroke victory in the MasterCard Championship.

Morgan, who has won his last three starts, matched the Hualalai course record with an 8-under-par 64 en route to a 21-under 195 total.

``Gil has picked up where he left off last year,″ said Irwin, the 1997 winner who also closed with a 64 to tie for second with Gibby Gilbert. ``He’s put the early bullseye on his back.″

Morgan, who began the final round with a two-stroke lead, wasted little time laying claim to the $200,000 first-place prize. He birdied No. 2, eagled No. 4, and followed with a another birdie on No. 5 to take control.

``The eagle at 4 and birdie at 5 gave me some separation,″ said Morgan, who closed the 1997 season with victories in the Ralphs Senior Classic and Senior Tour Championship. ``After that, I just tried to maintain my lead.″

Morgan also birdied Nos. 8, 10, 14 and 18. He finished the week with the eagle, 20 birdies and only one bogey for the second-lowest score ever in the tournament in relation to par.

``Overall, my confidence level is up. I hit a lot of good shots this week and made a lot of birdies,″ he said. ``I knew if I didn’t make a serious mistake, I would be in good shape.″

Morgan, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, has eight victories in 31 senior starts since turning 50 late in the 1996 season. He won six times last year, but was overshadowed by Irwin’s record-tying nine victories.

``I was playing for second once I got into a position where I was two back of second,″ said Irwin, who edged Morgan by two strokes last year in the season-opening event. ``But this gives me something to build on as we go forward in the year.″

Except for a birdie by Vicente Fernandez at the 167-yard 12th, which made it a four-stroke lead, no one got close to Morgan.

Fernandez shot himself out of the tournament on the next hole when he hit into a lava field and recorded a double-bogey.

Gilbert closed with a 64 to tie for second with Irwin in the 19-man field of 1997 winners. Fernandez finished with a 68 to tie for fourth with David Graham (66) and Dave Stockton (68) at 14-under 202.

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