Sunday, September 7, 2003

Neighbors Morgan, Tewell say Amen

Kroger Classic

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - Holes 14, 15 and 16 at the TPC at River's Bend were a mini-Amen Corner in the second round of the Kroger Classic Saturday.

A couple neighbors from Edmond, Okla. - leader Gil Morgan (65-67, 132) and Doug Tewell (68-66, 134) - survived holes 15 and 16 and are set for a shootout in today's final round.

Jerry McGee, Rex Caldwell and Bruce Summerhays - each atop the leader board before reaching Amen Corner Saturday - all saw their hopes take major hits on either Nos. 15 or 16.

"The difficulty on No. 15," explained Graham Marsh (68-67, 135), "is you must drive it well to get in position, because it's a testy second shot with the creek running along the left. Down there, you're usually coming off a down-slope with the ball hanging away from you and the pin tucked in the left-hand side."

No. 15 is where the best feel-good story of the week - McGee - had his biggest problems Saturday.

McGee, 60, is a cancer survivor. Two malignant tumors were removed from the left side of his neck and another at the base of his tongue in 1999. He is celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary today.

The 15th hole is a devilish 432-yard par 4. McGee will likely find his "6" on the 15th cost him a shot at the $225,000 first prize.

It was position day Saturday, and Morgan, Tewell and Marsh (who parred Amen Corner), emerged in the best positions.

Larry Nelson (bogey on No. 14) is four back, while McGee (bogey on 14, double-bogey on 15) and Summerhays (double-bogey on 16) and Caldwell (double-bogey on 15) and Tom Jenkins (bogey on 14) are all five back, as is Isao Aoki (parred Amen Corner).

Tewell said his 15-foot, par-saving putt on the par-3 16th was critical.

"That put a little spark in my head," said Tewell, who birdied No. 17 and No. 18, as did Morgan.

A lot of eyes will be on Morgan and Tewell because of their bond. They live only a few blocks apart in Edmond and are fans of rival athletic programs. Tewell graduated from Oklahoma State; Morgan, like so many Oklahomans, is a huge fan of the Boomer Sooners of Oklahoma, the No. 1-ranked college football team.

It is Morgan's laser iron play this week vs. Tewell's tour-leading driving accuracy. The putters also figure to factor.

Morgan and Tewell are buddies - heck, they're even in the same Bible study group - but, oh, is there ever a rivalry between them.

"Doug roughed me up the past few years because Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma (in football),'' Morgan said. "You know the line: 'No. 1 in the nation, No. 2 in the state.' I've heard my share of that. This year it will be different."

Morgan knows he can't let Tewell's driving accuracy get to him. If Morgan, who is longer off the tee, can hang with him in the fairway and put some pressure on with those irons, the heat's going to be on Tewell's putter early, and that might be a lot to ask of the man who answers to the nickname "Tewell Time."

Tool No. 1 is going to have to be that blade. Without it, the guess here is that Morgan will be tough to catch.

"I'd like to get off to a good start, try not to make any mistakes and try to make three birdies each side - and no bogeys," Morgan said. "That's my scheme for (today).''

Today's final round

Starts: 9:30 a.m.

TV: The Golf Channel, 1:30- 4 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. (tape)

Tickets: $20

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