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2014 U.S. Senior Open: A look at the golfers who call Oak Tree National their home course

When Oak Tree National hosts the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, four players from the home course are expected to play. All four have intriguing storylines.
by Michael Baldwin Published: June 15, 2013
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photo - Bob Tway tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament in Carmel, Ind., Friday, July 31, 2009. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT: INMC106
Bob Tway tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament in Carmel, Ind., Friday, July 31, 2009. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT: INMC106

EDMOND — When Oak Tree National hosts the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, four players from the home course are expected to play.

All four have intriguing storylines.

Bob Tway, the 1986 PGA Tour Player of the Year, is immortalized for his shot that won the 1986 PGA Championship.

Gil Morgan compiled a memorable PGA Tour career, then dominated the Champions Tour for two years. Morgan is third all-time in senior wins.

Willie Wood revived his career last year on the Champions Tour, providing an inspiring story of perseverance.

Scott Verplank, who will be profiled next Sunday in the finale of a three-part series, turns 50 the day before the 2014 U.S. Senior Open. The Oak Tree major will be his Champions Tour debut.

“It just doesn't happen very often where that many guys from one course get to play on their home track,” Tway said. “The golf course should hold its own. Hopefully we'll have a week of good weather and it would be great.

“When the PGA was here (in 1988), it was a lot of fun. I think this tournament with the four of us in it could be even more fun.”

Bob Tway

Tway, 54, picks and chooses his tournaments these days. He didn't play last month at the Patriot Cup in Owasso as a precaution.

“My back was hurting pretty bad. I barely got through the (Senior) PGA,” Tway said. “(Doctors) told me I needed to rest a little bit. Getting older, I can't practice all day, every day like I want to. But I'll be fine. I'll be playing in a lot of tournaments this summer.”

Tway is still competitive. He has compiled more than $18 million in career earnings, including $1.7 million his four years on the Champions Tour.

“I haven't played as well as I think I should play,” Tway said. “I still feel like I can play almost as well as I've ever played. My chipping and putting, the scoring aspect of the game, haven't been as good.”

After failing to make the PGA Tour his first three attempts early in his career, Tway broke through in 1986. After winning four tournaments that year, Tway was named PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Three years later, Tway won the Memorial. He won in Las Vegas in 1990 and won again in Hilton Head, S.C., in 1995. His final PGA Tour win came at the 2003 Canadian Open at the age 44.

On the Champions Tour, Tway has never won but he's finished in the top 50 in annual earnings all four years he's competed, highlighted by a 33rd finish ($540,000) in 2010.

“I keep working on it. Hopefully it will get a little bit better because I still really enjoy playing,” Tway said. “I feel I can play a lot better than I've been playing.”

For Tway, it was one tournament — more specifically one shot — he will be remembered for.

At age 27, having won three times earlier in the year, Tway was having a special season. He trailed by nine shots after two rounds of the 1986 PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, before shooting a course-record 64 on Saturday.

He still trailed by four strokes heading into Sunday but charged on the back nine. The three-time All-American from Oklahoma State methodically chased down Greg Norman, who was coming off a win at the British Open but had blown third-round leads at the Masters and U.S. Open.

With the two tied heading to No. 18, Norman's approach shot settled in a thick patch of grass just off the green. Tway was in a front-right bunker.

Tway blasted out. When the ball landed softly and rolled directly into the cup, Tway jumped up and down in the bunker, both arms lifted high. Norman's chip to tie rolled 10 feet past the hole.

“When people think about my career, that's what they see,” Tway said. “A lot of people have difficulty with bunkers. For it to end that way, it was the big memory from my biggest accomplishment. People bring it up all the time.”

Gil Morgan

Morgan, an optometrist from Wewoka, is the only one of the four who didn't play at OSU and instead attended East Central University.

The 66-year-old Morgan's career is nearing its end.

But it's been a remarkable career.

Morgan collected $17.2 million on the senior tour and has won 25 Champions Tour events, third most in history behind Hale Irwin (45) and Lee Trevino (29).

“Overall, my game is not as good as it used to be,” Morgan said. “This is my 17th year (on the Champions Tour). That's a long time. Usually your longevity is five to 10 years on this tour. I feel fortunate to still be able to play even though my consistency isn't quite as good.”

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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