Ameritech Senior Open
Ameritech Senior Open
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Irwin wins tourney for third time in five years

Hale Irwin's days of "indifferent" golf are over.

After dominating the Senior PGA Tour the past two seasons with 16 victories, Irwin started this year in somewhat of a slump. He had one top-10 finish in his first seven tournaments, and didn't win until May.

But with a 5-under 67 today, Irwin won the Ameritech Senior Open, his second victory in three weeks and fourth win in seven tournaments. It also was his second straight Ameritech Senior title and third in five years.

Irwin shot a 10-under 206 for the $1.3 million tournament at Kemper Lakes.

"I had three or four months of indifferent play. I never got into that mode I was in all of last year," he said. "I had sort of this loose plan, but it wasn't really a goal and that's what I think was part of the problem."

Irwin's goal now is to catch money leader Bruce Fleisher, and Fleisher gave him some help when he put his second shot on No. 16 into the water. But Irwin's victory wasn't secure until Raymond Floyd narrowly missed a 45-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have tied Irwin and forced a playoff.

Fleisher and Floyd both finished at 9-under 207, tied with CBS color analyst Gary McCord. McCord had the best round of the day, making an eagle on the par-5 No. 4 and finishing with a 7-under 65.

Fred Gibson, a journeyman pro who was an unlikely co-leader after the second round, fell out of contention with a double bogey on No. 8 and finished at 5-under 211.

Irwin, who birdied five holes on the front nine Saturday, got off to another quick start today. He birdied No. 1, sinking an 8-foot putt and drawing encouraging cheers from the crowd.

He picked up another stroke on the par-5 No. 4, blasting out of a bunker to 3 feet from the pin and making the putt. He missed a birdie putt on No. 5 by an inch, but made a 10-footer on No. 6 to join Floyd in the lead at 8-under.

He took the lead by himself on the next hole, landing 2 feet from the cup on his third shot and making the easy birdie putt.

"The goal today was to try to get out to a good start, which I did. The other goal was to play bogey-free golf, which I did," Irwin said.

But he couldn't move off of 9-under. Fleisher, meanwhile, was catching up. Fleisher, who is getting over the flu, had birdies on Nos. 4, 5, 12 and 14, and he went 10-under with another birdie on No. 15.

Then, disaster struck on No. 16. With 201 yards to go, Fleisher's second shot hit a rock and skipped into the water on the right side of the hole. As if that wasn't bad enough, he missed an 8-foot bogey putt.

"No. 16 was my Waterloo," Fleisher said, smiling. "I'm kind of tickled pink to even have given it a shot. I almost gave it a gallant try."

Fleisher picked up a birdie on the par-3 17th, but Irwin had birdied the 15th. Fleisher had one more chance to catch Irwin, but he missed a 27-foot birdie putt from the edge of the green on 18.

Floyd got to 8-under on the second hole, playing the par-4 almost perfectly. His drive was right down the middle of the fairway, his second shot landed 5 feet from the pin and he made the putt for birdie. But he couldn't get any further, missing several birdie putts by mere inches.

He finally picked up another stroke on the par-3 13, chipping in from about 37 feet from the green.

"Those were my only two birdies and that's why I'm sitting here in second place," said Floyd, who shot a 2-under 70 today. "I had some birdie opportunities, but just didn't get the job done."

"I had tremendous support out there," the Chicago favorite added. "I'm glad we gave them a good show."