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GOLF ROUNDUP : Stewart Turns Bad Times to Good

From Associated Press

Coming down the stretch in the lead of the Byron Nelson tournament brought back memories for Payne Stewart--all of them bad.

But Stewart exorcised his personal demons Sunday with a three-under-par 67 at Irving, Tex., to take a two-stroke victory over charging Lanny Wadkins.

“I feel I had something coming to me in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex,” Stewart said.

He was referring to his misfortunes in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area when, in consecutive years during the 1980s, he lost the Colonial in nearby Ft. Worth, lost again in this event, then lost again at Ft. Worth--all in playoffs.

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“In some of them, I beat myself,” Stewart said. “You don’t mind when somebody beats you. You mind a lot when you beat yourself.

“I think I’ve learned not to beat myself.”

Stewart, the PGA champion and a playoff winner in the Heritage Classic last month, proved his point.

He was under fire by some of golf’s best players--Greg Norman, Mark Calcavecchia and Wadkins--but held to win the tournament he had established as one of his career goals.

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“Except for Bay Hill (where he resides), this is my most emotional victory,” he said. “This is as sweet as the PGA.”

Wadkins, who made the last, and best, run at Stewart, predicted it could be the start of greatness.

“I think Payne is just now learning to win,” Wadkins said. “I think he is going to be a great player for a long time.”

Stewart finished with an eight-under-par total of 202 in the tournament that was shortened to 54 holes because of early-week floods.

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The victory was the seventh of his career and he joined rookie Robert Gamez as the only other multiple winner on the PGA Tour this year.

The victory was worth $180,000 from the purse of $1 million and lifted Stewart’s earnings for the season to $496,491. It also lifted his career earnings to $4,103,198, making him the seventh player to pass the $4 million mark.

Another playoff appeared a distinct possibility when Wadkins made a brilliant stretch run with a 65, best round of the tournament.

But Stewart preserved his a one-stroke lead with a five-foot par putt on the 15th hole, then pushed the margin to two with a five-footer for birdie on the 16th.

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“I didn’t think I had much chance,” Wadkins said. “I kind of conceded him a birdie on the 16th and that was enough. My hat’s off to him. He’s been knocking on the door here a long time.”

Calcavecchia had a 69 to tie Bruce Lietzke (68) for third at 207. Norman finished with a 69 for 209.

Chi Chi Rodriguez shot a four-under-par 68 to edge defending champion Charles Coody and George Archer by one stroke and win the PGA Senior tournament at Las Vegas.

Rodriguez, who lost to Coody in a playoff in the tournament last year, strung together three rounds in the 60s to finish 12-under and win his first tournament of the year.

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“This is the first time a 12 beats an 11 in Las Vegas,” said Rodriguez. “I’m real excited. It’s been a long time.”

Rodriguez, who was tied with Archer for the lead going into the final round, birdied the first hole and never relinquished the lead. He had a two-shot lead before making a bogey on No. 17, but he and Archer both parred the 18th.

Archer shot 69 in the final round, while Coody had a 67, missing a 20-foot putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff.

Ayako Okamoto of Japan overtook Pat Bradley and Dawn Coe on with a four-under-par 68 for a one-stroke victory in the $425,000 Sara Lee tournament at Nashville, Tenn.

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The victory was the 16th in nine years on the LPGA Tour for Okamoto, who earned $63,750.

Bradley was three shots ahead after a 33 on the front nine, but she made four bogeys on the back side and finished with a 73.

Coe had a chance to force a playoff, but bogeyed the final hole.


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