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Traditional Names Looking Up at Wargo

From Associated Press

There they are, Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan, playing in the last group going into the third round of The Tradition, the first major of the year for the Senior PGA Tour.

Makes sense. They are the tour’s top two players, and Morgan is the defending champion.

Both were better than fair players on the PGA Tour in their younger days. And both are behind Tom Wargo after 36 holes.

Wargo went on a birdie binge on the back nine of the Cochise course at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., firing a 67 Friday, and his nine-under-par 137 is two shots better than Morgan and three better than Irwin.

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Morgan shot the day’s best score of 66, and Irwin scrambled to a 69. Bob Dickson was four shots behind after shooting 68.

“Those guys can play golf. They’ve been playing all their lives,” said Wargo, who didn’t play on the PGA Tour. “But I have to watch my own game.

“All you can do is put yourself in position to win on the last nine holes. Gil had this one won after 36 last year, but that doesn’t happen very often.”

Morgan, who has won three of the nine senior events this season, mounted a charge with three consecutive birdies starting at No. 13.

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But Wargo went one better, reeling off four birdies in a row, starting at No. 12.

“Every time I thought I got close, I looked up and he had gained a couple,” Morgan said.

For the second successive day, Irwin struggled from tee to green but continued his steady putting to card five birdies along with his two bogeys.

“Players like them are the reason we have a Senior Tour,” Wargo said. “They plowed the ground. I just want to put a little seed in it.”

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Steve Flesch, a left-handed rookie who couldn’t make the field for the Players Championship last week and returned to the Nike Tour rather than go home to snowy Cincinnati, finds himself atop the leaderboard in the Freeport-McDermott Classic at New Orleans after shooting a four-under 68 in the second round.

Flesch’s 36-hole total of 134, 10 strokes under par, is two shots better than Joe Ozaki and Duffy Waldorf.

After birdies on the first two holes, Flesch bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, made a 10-foot putt for a birdie on No. 5 and a 20-foot putt for a birdie on No. 6.

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He added birdies on 11, 12 and 13 before playing even over the next four holes, including a 12-foot putt on 17, then missed a 4-foot putt and took a bogey on 18.

Four players were at 137, including Mark Wiebe. Four more were another shot behind.

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Carin Koch played par golf through rain, then greeted the late-afternoon sun with two back-nine birdies in shooting a two-under-par 70 en route to an eight-under 136 and a three-shot lead in the Longs Drugs Challenge, an LPGA Tour event at Lincoln, Calif.

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Barb Mucha, whose 65 was the tournament’s best round, and Donna Andrews, who carded a 69, were at 139.

Heavy rain pelted the 6,412-yard Twelve Bridges Golf Club during most of the second round. Casual water was common throughout the course and many tee areas were heavily soaked. One group did not finish because of darkness.


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