Hatalsky Wins First Senior Title

Sunday, August 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ Morris Hatalsky won his first Senior PGA Tour title, using seven final-round birdies Sunday to finish with 42 points in the Uniting Fore Care Classic.

Hatalsky, who began the season as a Monday qualifier, needed a sponsor's exemption to enter at Park Meadows, but it paid off. His victory gave him $225,000 from the $1.5 million purse.

Jay Sigel had six final-round birdies to place second with 30 points under the modified Stableford format. Hale Irwin, Mike McCullough, John Bland and Jerry McGee tied for third with 29.

John Jacobs, who shared the second-round lead with Hatalsky, finished at 28. After surging with 24 points Saturday, his closing round included four bogeys, two double bogeys and two birdies.

Tom Watson, playing in Utah for the first time, was in the final group but fell off the pace with three bogeys on the front nine. He birdied the 18th to tie for 10th with 26 points.

Hatalsky was a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, with his best year coming in 1990 when he earned $253,339. He spent last season on the Buy.com Tour after a five-year break from competition.

Hatalsky putted well and made some outstanding chips this week, and he was rewarded under the Stableford system.

Eight points are given for a double eagle, five for an eagle and two for a birdie. No points are awarded for par, while a bogey is minus-1 and a double bogey or worse is minus-3.

It was practically over when Hatalsky holed out from 35 feet on the par-3 14th for a birdie that boosted him to 40. He had chipped in on consecutive holes Friday to take the first-round lead.

Affectionately nicknamed ``Morris the Cat'' by fellow players, Hatalsky was as cool as a cat. He silently raised an arm after making a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 7, his most exuberant celebration all day.

Hatalsky was comfortably ahead on the back nine, and not even a few trouble spots could derail him.

After driving into the rough and flying the green on the par-5 15th, he averted trouble with a pitch to 4 feet. His birdie putt rolled in, lifting him to 42 points.

The closest challenger at that point was Jacobs, who couldn't match Hatalsky on Sunday. Irwin charged with seven birdies and Sigel had five on Sunday, but by then Hatalsky was out of reach.

Hatalsky has played well in 15 previous starts, with three second-place results among his 10 finishes in the top 10.