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Golf Roundup : Simpson Breaks 4-Year Slump With Victory

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Tim Simpson, winless for four years, worked out with a putting aid, consulted a sports psychologist and made the shots that counted Sunday, regaining his confidence and pocketing the $135,000 winner’s check at the USF&G; Classic at New Orleans.

“I’m really, really thrilled,” Simpson said. “For the past two years, I’ve been struggling with my confidence, wondering if I’d ever win again.”

After a round of 70 on Saturday, which left him “so frustrated I could pull my hair out,” he worked Saturday night and Sunday morning with a putting aid designed by New Orleans club pro Jimmy Self and talked to sports psychologist Bob Rotella on the telephone.

“He told me to stay focused--focus all of my attention on the hole and let nothing bother me. That’s what I did, and it worked,” Simpson said.

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The $750,000 tournament was played over the 7,106-yard, par-72 course at English Turn. It was the first professional event at the course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Simpson shot a three-under-par 69 Sunday and had a tournament total of 274, 14-under par.

It was only the second professional victory for Simpson in a career that began in 1977. He won the Southern Open in 1985, won $200,748 last year, 56th on the money list, and had won $84,418 in nine tournaments this year.

Simpson started the final round a stroke behind Greg Norman.

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Norman finished two strokes back, tied with Hal Sutton at 276, worth $66,000 each. Norman shot 72 Sunday, and Sutton shot 70.

After 66 holes, Simpson and Norman were tied at 13-under par.

Simpson took the lead for good with an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and made it a two-stroke lead with a birdie putt on No. 15.

Simpson bogeyed No. 17, but so did Norman.

Norman had a 35-foot putt for an eagle on No. 15, but that rolled three feet past the hole, and he missed the second putt, too, before tapping in for par.

He missed a nine-foot putt for a birdie on 16, and missed another shot at a birdie on 17.

Tom Kite failed in his bid for a third straight tournament title, shooting a 73 Sunday.

Allison Finney shot an even-par 73 on a rain-soaked course and took advantage of Beth Daniel’s lone mistake--a double-bogey on the second hole--to win the $400,000 LPGA Turquoise Classic at Phoenix.

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It was the first tournament victory in seven years on the tour for Finney, whose previous best was a second-place tie at the 1985 Mazda Hall of Fame Championship.

Finney, 30, finished with a 10-under 282 total to take the $60,000 top prize.

Daniel, who started the day one shot ahead of Finney, parred every hole except the par-3 second, where she four-putted for the double-bogey. She had a two-over 75 for a 283 total and settled for the $37,000 second-place check.

Defending champion Bob Charles of New Zealand won the $370,000 Fuji Electric Grand Slam seniors title at Narita, Japan, by four strokes with a nine-under-par 207.

Charles shot a final-round 69 and won $75,000.

Americans Don January, Charles Coody and Larry Mowry finished in a three-way tie for second at 211. January had a final-round 69, Coody 68 and Mowry 70.

American Holly Hartley of Oceanside, the L.A city champion in 1976, shot an even-par 72 to score her first victory in Japan, a one-stroke triumph over Hiromi Kobayashi, who beat her in a sudden-death playoff two weeks ago.

Hartley finished with a 215, and Kobayashi, with a 74, ended at 216 in the $308,000 Kibun Classic ladies golf tournament at Higashmatsuyama. The victory was worth $55,400.

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