David Morland IV is grateful to be playing at the Hoag Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event, this week at Newport Beach Country Club.
The 50-year-old had a four-year hiatus from golf after getting into a car accident in 2011. He had to play a qualifier at Goose Creek Golf Club on Tuesday just to get into the Hoag Classic, and that wasn’t easy either.
The Mann Fire disrupted play, and play was suspended.
“It’s the craziest thing,” Morland said. “I’ve got video, we were on the 18th hole, I think I was three-under for the day and the chopper was picking up water right in front of us and dropping it on the fire. The flames looked about 20 to 30 feet and they said you’ve got to evacuate the property. So we were sending our scorecards in by picture because they wouldn’t let us back on the property.”
Morland’s score of two-under on the front nine was enough to earn one of the four qualifying spots. Once he got into the main draw of the tournament, he didn’t disappoint.
Morland fired a bogey-free, 10-under-par 61 Friday to claim the lead by two strokes after the first round. Ken Duke and Scott McCarron are tied for second at eight-under-par, while David Toms sits in fourth at six-under-par.
Billy Mayfair, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Chris DiMarco, Steve Flesch, Ken Tanigawa and Ernie Els are all tied for fifth at five-under-par. Past event champions Fred Couples and Jay Haas are among four golfers tied for 11th at four-under-par. Couples got there after an eagle on No. 18.
Morland, a Canada native who now lives in Florida, has been playing well in recent months. He called Friday’s round, his lowest as a professional golfer, a “nice stroll in the park.”
“Just doing what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I’ve been playing well, I’ve been rolling the ball well and just took it one stroke at a time, add it up when I got done.”
McCarron is vying to win the Hoag Classic after coming close the last two years. He tied for second place in 2018 and tied for third in 2019.
Duke, in the second group to tee off at No. 1 on Friday, was the leader for much of the day. His round included seven birdies, as well as an eagle on the par-four No. 5.
“I’m usually never out of the fairway, but I missed a few today and I was up under a tree and between two roots and it was a perfect number, 190 yards,” Duke said. “I was just trying to hit a low 5-iron up there to run up there to that back pin and it came out perfectly, hit on the front and just kept going, kept going. I see everybody’s hands going up in the air and it went in. It’s, I guess, a payback because on the first hole I hit it right down the middle and I was in a divot, so I guess that’s a payback, but I’ll take anything like that, for sure.”
Also Friday, $70,000 of scholarships were awarded by Kingston Technology, including $50,000 to the Hoag Employee Scholarship Program. The first Hoag employee to be a recipient was Luis Cornejo, a chef at Hoag who is an interested in an advanced culinary degree. He would be the first from his family to attend college and receive an associate’s degree.
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