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Irwin, Morgan down to final-day shootout

SHARE Irwin, Morgan down to final-day shootout

Didn't you just know it was going to come down to this?

All year, the Senior Tour has been a showcase for Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan. If Irwin wasn't winning one of his nine tournaments this year, Morgan was likely holding the trophy, like he's done five times this year.So why shouldn't the two, who've won almost $4 million this season, turn the year's final round into a shootout?

"It is supposed to be a tough situation," Morgan said Saturday, two strokes in front of Irwin at the Senior Tour Championship. "I mean that is kind of what it is all about."

Morgan's second straight 66 put him at 15-under. Irwin fired a 68 at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club and was at 13-under. No one else was with-in five shots.

"That course played a little tougher out there today and they made it look easy. It's a two-horse race because I don't see them cracking," said Bob Duval, who began tied with the two at 9-under and dropped eight shots back after a 74.

At stake Sunday is $328,000 and a little bit of one-upmanship heading into next season. Should Irwin win, it would be a single-season Tour record. A win by Morgan would let him join Irwin at more than $2 million earned.

"It is nice that it is happening this way this year," said Morgan, who has won all four tournaments he's led this season through three rounds.

The two matched scores until Irwin's bogey on No. 7 put Morgan up by one. Then Morgan ripped off four straight birdies from Nos. 8-11 and eventually led by four shots on the 14th hole when Irwin hit the lip of fairway bunker, took bogey and fell to 10 under.

However, three straight birdies - all from 6 feet or less - got him within two shots of the lead going the Senior season's final round.

Morgan, a long hitter playing his first Senior Tour Championship, out-steadied Irwin, who has won three U.S. Opens by splitting flagsticks with amazing regularity.

Morgan rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole, hit a 5-iron within 10 feet for another at No. 9, made a 4-footer on the 10th and a 15-foot birdie on the 11th.

"If someone hits it in there close, I am trying to hit it in there closer," Morgan said. "If I can, I feel comfortable with what I'm doing."

Morgan could have built a bigger lead, missing birdie tries of less than 10 feet at the 12th and 13th holes. Irwin kept his composure and his focus.

"All you can hope is you keep your pace going and that you don't get caught up in watching that and thinking so much about that that you forget about what you are doing," Irwin said.

He talked all week of methodically managing his game so he would have a chance on Sunday, when he has faltered at past Tour Championships. When he saw Mor-gan's lead grow, it was Irwin's time for dazzling approaches. He hit to 18 inches on No. 15 for a tap-in birdie, to 4 feet on the 16th for a second, and looped a 6 iron within 6 feet for his final one.

Both Irwin and Morgan downplayed the match-play situation, choosing to worry about their own games instead of each other's.

"I am going to try and play the same game I have been playing last two or three days," Morgan said. "If it gets down to match play coming down the last few holes, then I'll take a look at that."

Kapalua International

At Kapalua, Hawaii, the final Kapalua International is turning out to be a two-man event between a veteran and an almost-rookie on the PGA Tour.

Davis Love III, who has 12 career victories on his resume - including this year's PGA Championship - and David Toms, who won his first tournament a little over three months ago, birdied the final hole Saturday to continue to share the lead after three rounds of the event. Both started the day deadlocked at 11-under 133.

Each wound up the third round with 67s to put them at 17-under 200.

Sarazen World Open

At Braselton, Ga., Mark Calcavecchia overcame a shaky start and a mild challenge by Lee Westwood to shoot a 1-under-par 71 Saturday for a six-stroke lead after three rounds of the Sarazen World Open.

Calcavecchia, who had a seven-stroke lead over Westwood and Australia's Peter O'Malley after two rounds of the $2 million tournament, also managed to solve the gusty, 15-mph winds on the back nine after Westwood got to within three stokes after Calcavecchia bogeyed the 12th hole.