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Morgan opens with a 76 at PGA Professional Championships

By DON HOHLER • Updated Apr 28, 2019 at 7:31 PM

BLUFFTON, S.C. — Ken Morgan took a picture of the leaderboard Sunday morning at Belfair Golf Club — the site of the 2019 PGA Professional Championship.

It showed his son, David, the Director of Golf at Eagle Creek, tied for the lead after seven holes. He could not hold that lofty position in the 301-player field, however. He finished with a 76, playing his initial side of Belfair's West Course in even par 36 but then skying to a 40 on the front nine.

"For whatever reason, I find it easy to concentrate early in the round, but then lose track of what I want and need to accomplish on the closing nine holes," Morgan said. "Putting was part of my problem Sunday. And it was not because i missed that many short putts.

"It's just that I only made three longer putts in the 15-to-20-foot range," he added. "That generally is the strength of my game. Also, I never really got used to the run-out of these greens. A lot of my putts ran serious distance by the hole, which made me struggle for par after hitting second shots into greens close enough that I had good birdie chances."

Morgan had gone to 2-under par on his opening nine, but then double-bogeyed the 18th hole — which had him eventually playing the back nine of the par 71, 6.900-yard West Course in even par 36. For geographic reasons, players started the back side of the west Course on No. 11 and then finished their round on No. 10.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, there were 28 players with scores of even par or better. Two players were in at four-under par and five more at 3-under.

Morgan explained that it was much easier mentally over last year when he and his family traveled to California for the same event.

"I only wish I would have had more playing time prior to the event," he said. "When you are playing the caliber of opponents true pro shop professionals like myself are playing, you have to be on your game from the first shot to the last and give nothing away. A high percentage of these players were either on a professional tour or are Directors of Instruction at large courses and venues that allows them to play and or practice whenever they wish. In other words, their names have given them their positions.

"I was paired this morning with a player from Texas, Jeff Brehout," Morgan added. "He made $10 million playing tour golf, but since leaving the tours, he is now a Director of Instruction at a high-dollar club. And he shot a 78 Sunday, two strokes higher than myself. My other playing partner was Joe Mitchell. I am not sure where he was from. There was not much talk between us after he triple-bogeyed the first hole in route to a 79."

Morgan was unsure just what he would have to shoot to make the cut on Monday. When he turned in his card in early Sunday afternoon he was 201st out of a field of 301. He will likely move up from that 201st place as the Sunday scores are tabulated.

"If I can move up to somewhere close to the 100th spot and then shoot something around even par tomorrow (Monday), I think I might have a chance at making the cut of low 80 scores and ties," he said. "I go off late tomorrow (today) 1:45 p.m. off the East Course. Because of that late finish, I will know when I come in just where I stand."

There is a quick turnaround for the players who fashion the low 20 scores at this event. They have an automatic entry into the 2019 PGA National event, which means they will have just two weeks to get ready for a far bigger event — played at famed Bethpage Black outside of Farmingdale, N.Y.

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