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Joe Durant (who?) gets first tour victory

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Joe Durant's wife always believed in him. So did his coaches and friends. But Durant, well, he could never seem to find the confidence in himself that everyone else had.

Until now.The guy who never thought he'd hold a trophy now has one with plenty of history. With a 6-under-par 66 that put him at 17-under 271, Durant added his name to the list of Western Open champions with Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Wal-ter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus.

"I'd like to take a good look at that trophy," Durant said Sunday. "I'm honored to be on there, I truly am."

Vijay Singh, the third-round leader, was up and down throughout a final-round 72 on Cog Hill's Dubsdread course to finish two strokes back. U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen had another strong showing, but couldn't quite duplicate his magic of last weekend. He shot 71 to finish in a tie for third at 277 with Dudley Hart, who tied the course record with a 9-under 63.

Greg Kraft, the first-round leader who was second in the 1994 Western Open, fell apart on the final day of the $2.2 million, Motorola-sponsored event. He shot a 75 to finish at 10-under 278. Steve Stricker, the 1996 champion, also was at 278 after shooting a 71 Sunday.

Tiger Woods had another strong round, shooting a 69 to finish at 7-under 281.

Durant bounced between the Nike and PGA tours the past five years, earning enough money to keep going but never doing anything spectacular. His best previous finish was a tie for fifth in the 1997 Honda Classic.

When he finished the second round atop the leaderboard, one Chicago paper ran the headline: "Joe Who?"

SHOPRITE LPGA CLASSIC: Annika Sorenstam is leaving little to chance this year, and it could mean the best season yet in her remarkable career.

A year ago, she took a two-stroke lead into the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Absecon, N.J., and shot a safe 71 as Michelle McGann blew past her with a 64 to steal the victory.

Lorie Kane closed with a 67 to finish third at 203, and Helen Dobson was fourth at 204.

Donna Andrews, who had finished second in each of her last four starts, made a run early with birdies on two of the first three holes but cooled off and shot a 69 and was among those at 205.

NFL SENIOR CLASSIC: How strange is golf? Consider this. Bob Dickson ended a 25-year victory drought because he didn't get a 50-foot birdie putt anywhere near the cup on the 17th hole Sunday in the Cadillac NFL Golf Clas-sic at Clifton, N.J.

Dickson won with a 20-foot birdie on the first hole of a playoff with Larry Nelson and Jim Colbert, who was seeking his first victory since undergoing cancer sur-gery last June.

However, the putt that Dickson won't forget is the one on No. 17, a 215-yard, par 3 at the Upper Montclair Country Club.

Tied for the lead at 9-under with Colbert, Dickson hit his tee shot on the green, about 50 feet from the pin. When it was his turn, Dickson putted with his caddie, Brian Dease, standing right next to him.

The problem was the flag had been left unattended. If the ball had struck the flag stick, it would have been a two-shot penalty.

Luckily, Dickson left the putt 5 feet short. He didn't even notice the flag until Colbert pointed it out to him when he went to mark his ball.

FRENCH OPEN: Sam Torrance nearly skipped the French Open. He ended up skipping out of Guyancourt, France, with his first victory in three years.

Torrance birdied the final two holes for a two-stroke victory over Germany's Bernhard Langer, Italy's Massimo Florioli, France's Olivier Edmond and Australia's Mathew Goggin. The Scot finished with a 2-under-par 70 for a 12-under 276 total. He earned $133,000.