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HOME, SWEET HOME - STADLER WINS IN L.A.

SHARE HOME, SWEET HOME - STADLER WINS IN L.A.

Although it took a while, Craig Stadler finally completed his personal "hometown" sweep.

Stadler, who was born in San Diego and played golf for the University of Southern California, won the Nissan Open on Sunday at Riviera Country Club. It was his first victory since the Buick Invitational in San Diego two years ago."I said nearly 10 years go that I want to win L.A. and San Diego because it's home," he said. "I won San Diego two years ago, and now L.A. It's special to win in front of family and friends."

Stadler shot a closing 3-under-par 68 to go to 6-under for the tournament. That was one shot ahead of four players - including former USC roommate Scott Simpson and two-time tournament winner Fred Couples - tied for second.

"I wanted to get in a playoff with him. I played well and came up short again,' said Simpson, who had a 71. "If I couldn't win, I'm glad he won.

"He loves this golf course so much, I know it makes him happy and it's a big boost to him."

Couples, a runnerup at Riviera for the third time in the past four years, shot a 69, including a birdie on No. 18 after his approach shot bounced enticingly over the hole.

Mark Brooks, with a tournament-low 64 on Sunday, and Mark Wiebe, with a 71, joined Simpson and Couples at 5-under.

Stadler, 42, shot a 5-under-par 30 on the front nine to take the lead, then survived to win despite bogeying Nos. 16 and 17.

Stadler began the final round back in a group four shots behind leader Neal Lancaster.

After Stadler finished, there were still four groups of contenders on the course, so he watched the finish on TV in the locker room.

Although there were several players close, nobody caught him.

"Surprise, surprise," Stadler said. "I know I didn't think I'd be here right now. And I'm sure a lot of others didn't, either."

Lancaster struggled to a 41 on the back nine on the final day to finish with a 77.

Corey Pavin, bidding to win the tournament a record third consecutive year, shot par 71 all four days.

At Sarasota, Fla., Hale Irwin continues to strike it rich on the Senior PGA Tour.

His $135,000 payday Sunday in the American Express Invitational pushed the three-time U.S. Open winner over the $1 million mark in a senior-record 16 events. With $1,066,100, he's averaging $66,631 per start.

Playing three rounds without a bogey, Irwin closed out his third senior title with an 8-under-par 64 at the TPC of Prestancia for a five-stroke victory over Bob Murphy.

"I did a lot of things very well," Irwin said. "My execution was not my very best, but the results were. I don't think I could have done any better. I didn't leave anything out there. I got everything out of it."

Irwin's 19-under 197 was the lowest Senior PGA Tour score since last July's Ameritech Senior Open, also won by Irwin at 21-under. He broke the 54-hole course record of 13-under 203 set by Tom Weiskopf in the 1993 Chrysler Cup and was one off the 18-hole mark set by George Archer in 1994.

Terry Dill (67) and Graham Marsh (70) tied for third at 203 and Ray Floyd (67) and Frank Conner (70) followed at 204. Stockton finished with a 73 to join Lee Trevino (69), Dick Rhyan (69) and Tom Weiskopf (72) at 206.