The finish — not so much.
That was the beginning and the possibly the end for Norwalk’s Eagle Creek Golf Club professional David Morgan as he played his first round in the 51st PGA Club Professional championship on the Black Horse course in Seaside, Calif. on Sunday afternoon.
Morgan finished with an 81, one of eight players with that 18-hole total, which has him in a tie for 266th out of a field of 312 players.
He was scheduled to tee off for his second round this morning, playing the tougher Bayonet course.
“Let’s just say my making birdie on the first hole was the kiss of death,” Morgan said. “I thought I hit the ball halfway decent, but the scorecard sure does not show that. I had some approach shots as well as putts within a foot of being tap-in birdies.
“But those putts, when the ball stopped rolling, turned into return putts up slopes — which would be difficult to make,” he added.
Morgan had the last time of the day on the Black Horse course Sunday. That certainly was not a plus in following the foot-traffic of half the 312-player field.
“Putting, all 39 of them, had a lot to do with my score,” he said. “The course was seriously firm. It was firmness I had did not encounter in the practice round. I admit the putter let me down and I did not help the situation by pressing, hitting 10-footers by the cup and then missing the come-backers, making bogey.
“The bottom line is I just did not follow what I preach,” Morgan added. “It was uncalled for to be that aggressive, because the course was not that difficult and one I could handle.”
Eagle Creek’s Director of Golf believes there is still hope he can make that first cut — but it’s going to take some doing. That cut line is low 70 players and ties.
“It was a great learning experience on Sunday,” he said. “I play Bayonet on Monday with a morning tee time and that should help as far as the foot traffic, or lack thereof, on the greens. The way I see it is I am going to have to take advantage of every good shot and on a tough Bayonet course.
“I have to be under par to have a chance to make that cut,” Morgan added. “I remain hopeful. Just need to get a better handle on the gravity of the greens.”
An Ohioan, Jayseen Hansen from Solon, is tied for the lead with Brian Carroll, Crystal Lake, Ill, after the first day. Both shot 4-under par 68s. There was no one in at 69. Three others, Zach Johnson (Farmington, Utah), Peter Jones (Rosewell, Ga.) and Ryan Verneer (Omaha, Neb.) are tied at 1-under.
The cut is made to the low 70s and ties after Monday’s second round and then a second cut is made after 36 holes.
The players with the 10 lowest scores advance to the national PGA event in August at Bellerive Country Club in Illinois. That is the tournament that retired Eagle Creek club pro Gary Wilkins advanced to in 1984.