Ingersoll-Rand Senior Tour Championship
Ingersoll-Rand Senior Tour Championship
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McCord closes with 67 to snatch title

Gary McCord, CBS Sports' irreverent analyst, again played the role he loves the most today -- golf champion.

McCord joked and hacked his way around The Dunes Golf & Beach Club the first two rounds, but capped a wonderful weekend comeback at the course where he earned his PGA Tour card in 1974 with a one-stroke victory at the Senior Tour Championship.

As he held the trophy up at the 18th green, it was easy to see where the victory ranks with all his fame as an analyst, author and golf's wacky creative conscience.

"This is at the top of the pyramid," said McCord, who shot a 67 and was a 12-under 276. "Everything else is below it."

McCord had the tournament's low round with a 64 on Saturday and tracked money champion Bruce Fleisher for most of the final 18. But Fleisher lost a one-stroke lead by missing two short par putts -- the kind he had easily canned all season -- on the 16th and 17th holes.

"Whoa," McCord thought of Fleisher's errors. "It's amazing my bowels didn't open up." Suddenly, all McCord had to do was roll in a tricky 3 1/2-foot par putt on the 18th hole for the second -- and biggest -- victory of his career.

McCord, who never won on the regular PGA Tour, played the first 36 holes in 1-over par and the last 36 in 13-under. He earned $347,000 and finished the year with $993,291, about $300,000 more than he made in 25 seasons on the PGA Tour.

"This whole week has been such a Dow Jones ride," he said. "On Thursday and Friday, I didn't know what to expect. Then that last 36, I don't know if I could have played much better."

Fleisher and Larry Nelson, who fired a 65 after starting ix shots behind the leaders, were tied for second at 11-under. Summerhays was next at 8-under after a 74, while 60-year-old George Archer and Dana Quigley tied for fifth at 7-under.

McCord thought Saturday he would never get to 13-under, the number he thought it would take to catch Fleisher, so he calmly worked through his round.

His second birdie on No. 6, a 12-footer that went straight on line into the cup, got his juices flowing. "I started feeling pretty good then," he said.

He tied Fleisher with a 45-foot putt for birdie on the 10th hole and took the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 17.

By then Fleisher, who's won more than $2.5 million this season, missed a 3-foot par putt on the 16th hole and a 6-footer for par on No. 17.

"I basically fell asleep," he said. "That's what makes horse races."

Nelson quietly moved into contention with four birdies through the first 10 holes. Birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th holes got him thinking about a playoff, but said he simply ran out of time to a player who doesn't have enough of it.

McCord's working on a movie script about gambler Titanic Thompson and a sitcom about a Reed Farce, a 48-year old golfer about ready for the Senior PGA Tour. He was supposed to play in next week's Senior Match Play Challenge, but is broadcasting Greg Norman's Shark Shootout for CBS.

McCord knows what he'll remember the most about this year.

"All those other things are nice, but they involve other people," McCord said. "Out here, this is your canvas. It's all yours."

DIVOTS: Talk about an up and down round. Gil Morgan, the 1997 Senior Tour Championship winner, closed with an even-par 72 that he accomplished with four bogeys and two eagles. ... Dave Eichelberger, the last to arrive at The Dunes Club, also finished last at 7-over par in the 31-man field. Eichelberger laid out about $2,000 for an 11-hour limo ride Wednesday from New York's LaGuardia Airport when a storm delayed his flight. He made it to the course with about a minute to spare until his pro-am tee time. ... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says the Senior PGA Tour's total purse will grow from $49 million to more than $53 million in 2000.

 


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