Duel In The Sun The best gunfight in golf is Hale Irwin versus Gil Morgan

April 19, 1998

Ali-Frazier. Yanks-Red Sox. Cindy Crawford-Tyra Banks. Great
rivalries have a beauty all their own. For Hale Irwin (above,
left) and Gil Morgan (above, right), the beauty of Senior golf
is that a 38-event tour for 78-man fields has turned into
something approaching match play. Today, golf's fiercest rivalry
isn't between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, or between Annika
Sorenstam and Karrie Webb. It's the senior circuit's main event,
the two-man game between former football player Irwin and
licensed optometrist Morgan.

The golf duels that rival Irwin-Morgan are Jack Nicklaus versus
Arnold Palmer in the early 1960s and Sorenstam versus Webb in
1996 and '97. The chart below compares the three match-ups, with
Nicklaus-Palmer data from the only two-year stretch in which
they topped the money list together (it was Arnie-Jack in 1963,
Jack-Arnie in '64) and Sorenstam-Webb numbers from the past two
full LPGA campaigns. Irwin and Morgan's stats date from 1997,
which they began with only five Senior titles between them.

Since then, Irwin and Morgan have won 19 of 46 Senior tour
events. Irwin has 10 wins in that span, while Morgan has nine.
(The next-best senior, David Graham, has four.) More recent
stats, however, show the balance shifting toward golf's favorite
eye doctor. This year Irwin leads seniors in seven categories,
including birdies (5.06 per round), but Morgan ranks first in
11, most importantly in money ($674,580). Morgan fans can boast
that their man averages 279.4 yards off the tee, nearly 20 yards
more than Irwin, and leads the all-around ranking as well.
Irwinites can cite Hale's nine Senior victories and alltime,
any-tour mark of $2,343,364 in winnings last year, in addition
to his current first-place rank in scoring. His 68.94 average is
almost a half stroke better than the tour's second-best mark,
Morgan's 69.36.

Who's tops? Morgan's 3-1 lead in wins this season and the fact
that he has finished ahead of Irwin in 15 of the 24 tournaments
both men have entered in the past two years suggest that there's
a new world order on the elder tour. Hale, the conquering hero,
is ousted. All hail the Doc.

COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND [Hale Irwin, Gil Morgan, and another man on green]

PCT. OF
TOTAL
VICTORIES MAJORS TOP 10S EARNINGS PURSE

Gil Morgan '97-98 9 2 24 $2,835,142 5.61%
Hale Irwin '97-98 10 1 23 $2,814,014 5.57%
Arnold Palmer '63-64 9 1 32 $241,433 5.33%
Jack Nicklaus '63-64 9 2 34 $213,325 4.71%
A. Sorenstam '96-97 9 1 30 $2,045,100 3.60%
Karrie Webb '96-97 7 0 36 $1,989,606 3.50%

EXTREMISTS

Past masters champs Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson shot
career-worst rounds of 83 and 78, respectively, at Augusta this
year. Here are the best and worst rounds by selected green
jacket winners.

WINS LOWEST HIGHEST
Arnold Palmer 4 66 89
Ben Crenshaw 2 67 83
Sam Snead 3 67 83
Nick Faldo 3 65 81
Mark O'Meara 1 67 81
Fred Couples 1 67 81
Seve Ballesteros 2 66 81
Gary Player 3 64 80
Ben Hogan 2 66 79
Jack Nicklaus 6 64 79
Tom Watson 2 67 78
Tiger Woods 1 65 77

MAKING TRACKS

Harbour Town Golf Links, site of this week's MCI Classic, is a
1969 Pete Dye layout. The architects below have designed the
most courses used on the PGA Tour this year.

Joe Lee and Dick Wilson 8
Jack Nicklaus 4
Pete Dye 3
William F. Bell 3
Rocky Rocquemore 3
Robert Trent Jones Jr. 2
Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish 2

THE NUMBER

154
Greg Norman's 36-hole score last week at Augusta, where he
missed the cut. Until then his worst two-round total in 18
Masters tournaments was 151.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)