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Closing in on Senior Tour, Morgan enjoys PGA moment Kemper Open notebook

THE BALTIMORE SUN

POTOMAC -- Gil Morgan has earned more than $5 million during a 23-year career on the PGA Tour, yet is probably the least known of the 25 players who have crossed that financial threshold.

Although Morgan, a soft-spoken Oklahoman, has had some impressive performances during his career, he usually draws more attention for his Doctor of Optometry degree, although he never has practiced.

Morgan found himself in the Kemper Open spotlight yesterday, a familiar position for him since the tournament's move from Charlotte, N.C., to suburban Washington in 1980.

A 6-under-par 65 catapulted him into contention with 135 for two trips over the TPC at Avenel course. This put him two shots behind leader Scott McCarron and one back of Jay Williamson. Aside from a withdrawal, Morgan had a tie for second and three thirds in his first five starts at Congressional Country Club.

After the event moved across the street to its present site, he had a fifth, then highlighted his Kemper career by winning the 1990 event.

Regardless of what happens the next two days, Morgan will continue to be in the spotlight this season, as his PGA Tour career winds down, and he heads to the Senior Tour.

"I hope to play about 20 regular events, and this is my 12th," Morgan said yesterday. He turns 50 on Sept. 25, and is hopeful of playing in four or five Senior events .

"The first is the Advantage , but those places are determined by their money list. I would need a sponsor's exemption to get in."

Yesterday, Morgan reeled off seven birdies in the first 13 holes to get to 8-under par, then fell back with a bogey at the 16th, where he missed the green.

"It was a pretty consistent round, and I hit it closer to the hole than before. It was one of my better rounds." Earlier in the year, he had three straight 69s in tying for 13th at The Players Championship, and finished 64-69-65 to tie for sixth at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic.

Funk misses cut

Fred Funk, the former University of Maryland assistant pro and golf coach, continued his string of something-less-than-stirring Kemper performances when he shot 71-75--146. It was his worst 36-hole score since a 148 in 1982.

Others with area ties joining Funk on the sidelines were Russ Cochran, winner of the 1983 Tournament Players Series event in Baltimore, 146; Wayne DeFrancesco, Woodholme Country Club teaching professional, 148; Del Ponchock, 1992 Maryland Open winner as an amateur, 150; and Bud Lintelman, Hidden Creek CC assistant pro, 152.

Alan Zimmerman, Holly Hills CC, 22, an amateur and Old Dominion University senior, had 158; Lakewood CC pro Steve Madsen, 161; and former Baltimorean Jon LeSage, Chantilly (Va.) Golf Center, 165.

Pub Date: 5/25/96

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