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Fernandez bests Thompson in final

And the last shall be first.

Vicente Fernandez of Argentina, seeded last in the 16-player field, defeated Ray Floyd in the semifinals and Leonard Thompson in the final today to win the Chrysler Senior Match Play Challenge.

Fernandez got past Floyd, 2 and 1, and knocked off Thompson on the 19th hole to win the unpredictable event.

"I always think like it's all square," Fernandez said."I never changed my mind-set.I always think it's even and try to win one hole."

Today's two wins by Fernandez gave lower-seeded players 13 of 15 match victories.All but one of the top eight seeds lost in the first round, and No. 2 Dana Quigley -- the lone surviving high seed -- was bounced by Thompson in the quarterfinals.

En route to the title and the $240,000 top prize, Fernandez defeated top seed Larry Nelson, No. 9 John Jacobs, the 13th-seeded Floyd, and 10th-seeded Thompson.

"I'm looking forward to coming back," said Fernandez, who was helped by the pro-Latino crowd."It helps having fans rooting for you.To have the crowd behind you is very special."

It was a vindication of sorts for Fernandez, who went the entire official season without a win and had not finished better than 11th in his last 14 events.

"I putted very well again," Fernandez said."I haven't putted like this for a long, long time."

In the final, Thompson trailed practically the entire round but made it all square with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th. He missed a potential winning 12-footer at No. 18 and the duo went to their 37th hole of the day.

"I think we both got tired at the end of play," Thompson said. "We don't play 36 holes (in one day) on the Senior Tour."

"I felt a little tired at the end," Fernandez admitted.

At the par-5, 520-yard first, Fernandez went driver and 3-iron before blasting out of the bunker while Thompson also found the bunker.Thompson missed a five-foot par putt and conceded to Fernandez, who had a one-footer for birdie.

"Leonard had a very tough lie in the bunker and couldn't get it out," Fernandez said.

The players were all square through seven holes but Thompson bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9 and Fernandez birdied No. 10 for a 3-up lead.

Thompson got to 1-down with birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 but looked to to give it away with a bogey at No. 15.Fernandez let him back in with a bogey at No. 16.

Thompson, who earned $120,000, defeated 14th seed Lanny Wadkins, 2 and 1, in the semifinals.

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