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Golf Roundup : Watson Famine Ends at Richest Event of All

November 02, 1987| From Times Wire Services

Tom Watson, exhibiting the gritty determination that once made him the game's greatest player, ended a three-year victory famine Sunday in the richest tournament in golf.

Watson, the leader all the way, scrambled to a final-round two-under-par 68 and a two-stroke victory over Chip Beck in the Nabisco Championships of Golf, the final official event on the PGA Tour this year.

It was the 32nd victory of Watson's PGA career--not including his five British Open titles--and his first since July, 1984. Watson's win was worth $360,000 from the huge purse, plus another $24,000 from the grand prix.

The tournament at the Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio carried a $2-million purse, plus another $1 million for the Nabisco Grand Prix of Golf, which also ended in this tournament.

Despite finishing last in a 30-man tournament that offered the most prize money in Tour history, Curtis Strange took the season's money-winning title with a record $929,941.

But the honor he wanted--Player of the Year--eluded him. That went to Paul Azinger, who, like Strange, is a three-time winner this season.

In a tournament that offered almost 10% of the total Tour purse for 1987, the Player of the Year title turned on scoring average. Strange's 293 total for this event knocked him out of the Top 10 in scoring average and handed the title to Azinger.

At Tallahassee, Fla., Keith Clearwater won the inaugural $500,000 Centel Classic and in the process set a record for season earnings by a rookie.

Clearwater sank a six-inch putt for a par on the 18th hole to complete a one-under-par 71. He completed 72 holes at 10-under-par 278 for his second PGA Tour victory of the season.

The $90,000 first prize increased Clearwater's earnings to $320,007, breaking the rookie record of $260,536 set in 1984 by Corey Pavin in 1984.

Finishing a stroke behind Clearwater at 279 were Bill Glasson, Joey Sindelar, Bob Lohr and Bill Kratzert. Glasson had a 69, Sindelar a 72, Lohr a 70 and Kratzert a 71.

The tournament, formerly the Tallahassee Open, was played on the Killearn Country Club's 7,032-yard, par-72 course.

Andy Bean shot a seven-under-par 65 at Tokyo for a five-stroke victory in the individual event of the $464,000 ABC Cup Japan-U.S. golf match.

In the team event, the nine-man Japanese squad beat the U.S. team by three strokes with a four-day total of 2,227 against the Americans' 2,230. The U.S. team, captained by Hale Irwin, had 548 against Japan's 559 Sunday under a formula that counts the eight best scores on each side.

The Japanese received a team prize of $103,000, while the U.S. squad received $45,000.

In the individual event, Bean led after the first round with a course record-tying 64 but started the final round three strokes behind Masahiro Kuramoto of Japan. He shot seven birdies on the 6,850-yard, par-72 Sport Shinko Country Club course and finished with a 19-under-par 269 total.

Kuramoto shot a 73 for 274 and placed second. Bean pocketed $93,000 and Kuramoto $46,000.

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