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20-FOOT BIRDIE PUTT PUTS PRIDE IN FEDEX ST. JUDE WINNER’S CIRCLE

SHARE 20-FOOT BIRDIE PUTT PUTS PRIDE IN FEDEX ST. JUDE WINNER’S CIRCLE

It all came down to the first playoff hole at the Federal Express St. Jude Classic.

There were three birdie putts on the 18th green, none very close.First, Gene Sauers missed by an inch. Then, Dicky Pride drained it in the center of the cup from 20 feet away. Finally, Hal Sutton pulled one right past.

And just like that, Pride, a 25-year-old tour rookie from Alabama, had won his first PGA Tour event.

"I can't fathom it right now, what this means to me," said Pride, who had missed 12 of 17 cuts this year, winning only $45,897. "Am I in the PGA (Championship) with this now? I don't know."

He sure is, and he's also $225,000 richer.

Pride was the third alternate and learned a day before the tourney started that he would play after Lee Janzen withdrew.

"My fiancee is mad at me for getting married Dec. 17 instead of Dec. 10," Pride said, explaining he had set his wedding date expecting to be back at qualifying school for a second straight year.

Instead, he secured himself an exemption by rolling the 20-footer after having to birdie the same hole at the end of regulation to qualify for the playoff.

"It was fun. This is what you play for, especially when almost not having gotten into the tournament," Pride said. "It was fun."

Sutton, who won the tournament in 1985, took the lead at 17-under when Gil Morgan blew his three-stroke edge with a bogey and double-bogey on the back nine. Sutton tied the course record with a 30 on the front nine and finished at 17-under and 267 for four rounds.

Sauers shot a 66 and made a long birdie putt on 18. Pride, who dropped a stroke back with a bogey on 17, rebounded with a 25-footer to join the playoff.

Not bad for a man who couldn't earn a spot on the Alabama golf team five years ago.

"I was very, very nervous (before the round), and I didn't feel too good on the range," Pride said. "Then at the (first) tee, we had to wait five-six minutes, and I hit a bad drive."

But he recovered with a chip shot from 50 feet out for birdie.

"It really got the day going," he said.

Sutton, 46, credited his revival this year to changing back to his old golf swing and picking up tips from old coach Johnny Ballard.

He is playing the tour this year after using his one-time only exemption as a member of the Top 50 career money list.

He took the lead at 17-under by two-putting from 20 feet for birdie on 16.

"That Dicky beat me in the playoff, but no one beat me tee to green. I'm tickled to death with the changes. The last two years were a very humbling experience," Sutton said of ranking 185th and 161st on the money list.

In Canton, Mass., Helen Alfredsson was a runaway winner of the LPGA Ping-Welch's Championship by four strokes Sunday.

The Swede birdied five of the last nine holes in her bogey-free round of 66 that gave her a 14-under-par 274.

Pat Bradley, the leading career money winner, and Juli Inkster tied for second at 10-under 278. Inkster, who shot 69, challenged Alfredsson through 14 holes. Bradley, who finished with 68, made a late run with birdies at the 15th and 16th.

"When Pat gets going, you never trust her. She can do miracles," said Alfredsson, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead over Inkster and Annika Sorenstam.

Bradley, a Hall of Famer with 30 career titles, never gave up hope that Alfredsson might help her to her first win in her native New England.

At Jericho, N.Y., Lee Trevino won his seventh title of the year Sunday, shooting a 7-under-par 65 and setting a tournament-record 200 for 54 holes in the $650,000 Northville Long Island Classic. He broke the previous mark of 202, set by Don Bies in 1988.

His 24th career victory ties him with Miller Barber for the top spot on the tour's all-time win list. It also was worth $97,500, boosting his earnings for the year to $1,090,036 after 17 events and making him the quickest senior to surpass the $1 million mark.

"I really wanted to cut back (on tournaments)," said Trevino, who finished seven strokes ahead of Jim Colbert, whose 65 gave him a 207. "As long as I am playing this way, however, I'll continue with the same schedule.

"My plans call for three more weeks on the tour before I take a break. When I began this week my goal was to win one of the four. Now I want to win one of the next three."

Trevino's busy schedule meets with the approval of his wife, Claudia. The other members of the family are five-year-old Olivia and 22-month-old Daniel. The latter even figured into Trevino's victory at the par-72, 6,775-yard Meadow Brook Club.