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No-look plan nets win for Tataurangi

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 14, 2002

LAS VEGAS -- Phil Tataurangi did not know he was leading as he played the back nine Sunday. He was uncertain how much money he made after winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.

The only thing Tataurangi was sure of was his happiness.

"It's out of my wildest dreams to have won," Tataurangi said Sunday after shooting 10-under 62 to win the Invensys Classic. "No way did I start out the day thinking I had a chance to win."

In a year of unlikely first-time winners, Tataurangi became the latest, coming from five back. Tataurangi made 10 birdies in 18 holes to sweep past David Duval, three-time Vegas winner Jim Furyk and others, winning by one.

The New Zealander who has struggled with his game and health posted 29 under, then went to the driving range to wait nervously as Furyk (68), Stuart Appleby (66) and Jeff Sluman (67) missed birdies on the 18th that would have forced a playoff.

Tataurangi played without looking at a leaderboard, sticking to a game plan to shoot 62. After he did, he wasn't about to watch as pursuers had their chances on the final hole.

"I was as in the moment as I've ever been," he said.

He made $900,000, more than he had won in his career before this year. He is the 15th first-time winner this year, breaking the record set in 1991.

His win not only secures his tour card for two years, but likely will put him in the Masters after he moved to 33rd on the money list.

Not bad for someone best known for collapsing on the 17th hole of the Air Canada Championship last year. Tataurangi suffered from superventricular tachycardia, which causes rapid beating of the heart and mimics the symptoms of a heart attack. He had surgery in July, then his game improved.

Appleby had the best chance to tie after almost making a hole-in-one on the 17th. But he missed a 10-footer for birdie on the 18th. Sluman could not make a chip on 18th to force a playoff.

Duval, who entered with a one-shot lead, was trying to win for the first time since last year's British Open, but finished at 71.

Furyk, who had won three of the past seven Vegas tournaments, bogeyed the 18th. Sluman bogeyed the 18th to finish at 67, securing a spot in the Tour Championship and the Masters.

BEACON WOODS INVITATIONAL: South Florida shot a third-round 291 to pass Mississippi for second at Bayonet Point, but it was not enough to catch Tulane for the title in the 13-team field.

Tulane had four in the top five, including a pair tied for medalist. Tulane's Carolin Landmann and Liliana Alvarez finished with a three-day par total of 216. Landmann rallied in the final round, shooting a tournament-best 5-under 67. Tulane shot a school record 284 Saturday and 280 on Sunday.

South Florida's Jill Crowe shot a second-best round of 69, finishing four back in fifth. USF's Katie Ruhe tied for seventh at 222, Fany Schaeffer tied for 12th at 223 and Kelly Martin tied for 16th at 225.

NAPA VALLEY CHAMPIONSHIP: Tom Kite won his third title of the year on the Senior PGA Tour, shooting 72 for a one-stroke win in California. Kite, a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour who has six wins in three seasons on the senior tour, finished 12-under 204. Fred Gibson (66) and Bruce Fleisher (67) tied for second. Jim Thorpe (69), the 2000 winner, was 10 under, and Hubert Green had 64, th day's best round, to match Jay Overton (67), Tom Purtzer (69) and Bob Gilder (71) at 9 under.

LANCOME TROPHY: Alex Cejka shot 3-under 68 for a two-stroke win over Carlos Rodiles (66) in Saint Nom La Breteche, France. It was the fourth European PGA Tour title for Cejka, whose previous victories came in 1995, when he finished sixth on the European money list. Cejka, who began tied for the lead with Maarten Lafeber, finished 12-under 272.

FLORIDA SENIOR OPEN: Pat Kaylor of Clearwater shot 69-72-68-209 to finish five back in Naples.

-- Times correspondent Dave Walters contributed to this report.

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