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Craig Stadler, who played the entire tournament with a new putter after losing the one he had used for two years, won the Nissan Open on Sunday to end a two-year victory drought.

The rotund, bearded "Walrus" of the PGA Tour closed with a 3-under-par 68, then sweated out the finish in the locker room as his closest challengers came up short.Stadler's 6-under total of 278 at Riviera gave him a one-shot victory over former University of Southern California roommate Scott Simpson, two-time tournament winner Fred Couples, Mark Wiebe and Mark Brooks.

Stadler discovered on Thursday that he had lost his putter the previous day, and used one somebody had stuck in his locker.

He earned $216,000 for the victory in the $1.2 million tournament, his first since he won at San Diego two years ago.

In winning for the 12th time in his 20 years on the tour, Stadler came from four shots off the pace with a 5-under-par 30 on the front nine to go 8-under.

After bogeying Nos. 15 and 16, Stadler grimaced as his 12-foot birdie try on No. 18 trickled by the lip of the cup, leaving him with a meager one-shot pad.

Meanwhile, there were four groups still on the course, including Simpson, Couples, Wiebe, and Tom Lehman, who all were within one stroke of the lead on either the 17th or 18th.

Stadler watched TV in the locker room as Simpson missed a 20-foot birdie try on No. 18, a difficult 447-yard par-4. Couples, who was 4-under, barely missed an eagle as his approach shot bounced almost directly over the hole.

Lehman, who had just three-putted No. 17 to miss a chance to tie for the lead, wasn't close with his chip for birdie from the fringe on the final hole, and then dropped back when he missed an 8-footer for par. Wiebe, who birdied the 17th to go to 5-under, left his approach on the last hole 50 feet below the hole and couldn't make the putt.

Brooks played the back nine first and finished earlier with 64 that included a bogey on his final hole, No. 9.

Couples, also a runner-up in 1993 and 1994, shot a closing 69. Simpson and Wiebe had 71s.

Lehman, who had a 72, finished tied at 280 with Hugh Royer, Kelly Gibson and Lanny Wadkins, another two-time winner of the tournament.

Corey Pavin, trying to win the tournament a third consecutive time, was consistent if not spectacular this time - he shot par 71 all four days.

Third-round leader Neal Lancaster had his troubles on the back nine Sunday, with a 41 that gave him a 77 for the day and 283 for the tournament.

At Sarasota, Fla., Hale Irwin, playing all three rounds without a bogey, won the American Express Invitational seniors event, shooting an 8-under-par 64 and beating Bob Murphy by five strokes.

Irwin's total of 19-under 197 was the lowest Senior PGA Tour score since last July's Ameritech Senior Open, also won by Irwin at 21-under.

"I did a lot of things very well," Irwin said. "My execution was not my very best, but the results were. I don't think I could have done any better. I didn't leave anything out there. I got everything out of it."

In capturing his third seniors title, Irwin won $135,000. The payoff pushed Irwin, who joined the over-50 circuit in June, to more than $1 million in senior earnings in just 16 tournaments - faster than any senior player.

Only once in the 16 tournaments has Irwin failed to finish in the top 10, and that was a tie for 12th.

His 197 total broke the 54-hole record at the Tournament Players Club at Prestancia of 13-under 203 set by Tom Weiskopf in the 1993 Chrysler Cup. Irwin's 64 was one shot off the course record owned by George Archer.

Beginning Sunday's final round tied for the lead with Dave Stockton and Murphy, Irwin quickly took command, with birdies on two of his first three holes on his way to a front-nine 33.

"The thing I felt was important with the logjam we had was to strike early," Irwin said. "I did that. I got some birdies early and kept the intensity level high.

"The fact I made birdies when I needed to was critical. They could never catch up. It was like having a solid yellow line in the passing lane."

Murphy finished with a 68. He trailed by only two strokes before bogeying the 14th hole. Then Irwin, one group behind Murphy, birdied it, after bending a 5-iron around trees and out of a fairway bunker to 35 feet - sinking the putt.

"That pretty well shut the door," Irwin said.

Said Murphy: "I played a pretty good round. Good enough to finish second, and by-golly, if you can't be first, it's good to be second."

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